Franklin Regional High School stabbing
|Franklin Regional High School stabbing|
|Location||Murrysville, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Date||April 9, 2014 |
c. 7:13 a.m. – c. 7:18 a.m.
|24 (22 directly, including the attacker)|
The Franklin Regional High School stabbing was a mass stabbing that occurred on April 9, 2014, at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Alex Hribal, a 16-year-old sophomore at the school, used a pair of eight-inch kitchen knives to stab and slash 20 students and a security guard. Four students sustained life-threatening injuries, but all survived.
At around 7:13 a.m., minutes before classes began, Hribal, wearing black clothing, began stabbing and slashing students in the school's first-floor science hallway. After stabbing several people, Hribal pulled a fire alarm, attempting to bring more students out into the hallway, according to witness testimony and surveillance footage.
Hribal, who witnesses said looked "emotionless" during the attack, wounded 20 students and a security guard before he was subdued by Sam King, the school's assistant principal, with the help of student Ian Griffith. While he was being restrained by King, Hribal reportedly refused to drop the knives, saying, "My work is not done. I have more people to kill."
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) treated twelve patients. UPMC officials stated that two boys were in critical condition, two boys were in serious condition, and a boy and two girls were in fair condition. One victim was placed on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, while another suffered an open wound to the face that required 11 stitches. The teenage victims ranged in age from 14 to 17. Eight other patients were taken to Forbes Regional Hospital in nearby Monroeville. Several of those victims had suffered serious injuries, including "deep wounds to the abdomen", according to hospital officials. In addition to the stabbing victims, two other students suffered unrelated injuries while fleeing the school. Hribal was treated for injuries to his hand. On May 18, 2014, Greg Keener, the last of the victims, was discharged from Forbes Regional Hospital.
Franklin Regional High School was closed for several days while workers from a restoration company cleaned up. On April 14, classes resumed at the school. On April 9, 2015, Murrysville marked the one-year anniversary of the stabbing rampage. Several local churches held worship services that night.
Alex Hribal (born October 1, 1997), a sophomore who has been described as "really shy," was taken into custody after the stabbing as the suspected perpetrator. He has also been described as "quiet," "smart" and as having "a good future ahead of him." He alleged that he was depressed, had suicidal thoughts during the fifth grade, and that those emotions returned while he was attending Franklin Regional High School. He was believed by police to have threatened at least two students by phone prior to the rampage, but neither student was one of the victims. Officials have declared that Hribal was responsible for the stabbing, that he stabbed people in multiple classrooms, and that he used two "straight knives", measuring 8 to 10 inches (20.32 to 25.4 cm), to carry it out. According to testimony, Hribal had begun planning the attack on September 22, 2013.
Several items belonging to Hribal were seized from his home, including a notebook with writing in it and a knife holder assumed to have held the two knives used in the attack. A cellphone was also seized from Hribal's school locker, as was a note dated April 6, which read, "I can't wait to see the priceless and helpless looks on the faces of the students of one of the 'best schools in Pennsylvania' realize their precious lives are going to be taken by the only one among them that isn't a plebian [sic]."
On June 10, 2014, a warrant was unsealed which stated that Hribal had written a document about the Norse legend Ragnarök, as well as his dissatisfaction with society. The warrant also stated that two students had received threatening phone calls on the day before the stabbing, which were suspected to have been from Hribal. On September 26, 2014, psychologist Bruce Chambers testified that Hribal was inspired by the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, that he identified with the perpetrators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and that he had originally planned to carry out the stabbing on April 20, the fifteenth anniversary of Columbine, but changed the date to April 9, the birthday of Eric Harris, because April 20 fell on a Sunday that year.
Hribal was initially charged as an adult with four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault, and one count of carrying a weapon on school property. On April 25, Hribal's charges were upgraded to 21 counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault, which was due to the discovery of a note allegedly written by him that declared his intention to take lives during the attack.
On April 28, Hribal's preliminary hearing was delayed until May 9 due to the new charges filed against him. On May 5, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that this hearing had been further postponed, this time until June 4, at the request of Hribal's lawyer. On June 11, Hribal, who was charged as an adult, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
On June 11, 2014, Hribal's attorney, Patrick Thomassey, asked that Hribal be transferred to the juvenile treatment center Adelphoi Village, claiming that his mental and physical health had greatly deteriorated while he was held at the Regional Youth Services Center in Hempfield, Pennsylvania. On July 10, Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick, Jr., signed a court order allowing Hribal to be assessed by Dr. Bruce E. Wright. The county's district attorney said this evaluation was necessary to respond to Thomassey's request. Hribal was scheduled to be formally arraigned on July 23. On August 12, 2014, it was reported that Hribal's trial had been set for October 6 in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court, although the date was canceled on September 17. The trial, initially rescheduled for December, was later rescheduled to March 2015, then again to May 30, 2015.
On September 26, 2014, while leaving a mental health hearing, Hribal told a news reporter that he was sorry for committing the attack. He was expected to be transferred to Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after passing a medical examination and psychiatric evaluation, but the hospital refused to admit him on September 30, reportedly due to safety concerns.
On May 29, 2015, a hearing that will determine whether the case will be moved to a juvenile court was rescheduled for June 22. The proper trial for the stabbing rampage was also rescheduled for at least July 6. On June 23, victims of the rampage testified in court about their injuries and urged the judge to try Hribal as an adult. On September 24, a judge ruled that Hribal must be transferred from a juvenile detention center to Westmoreland County Prison when he turns eighteen years old. This transfer was carried out on October 1, and the judge refused to set bail for Hribal on October 26, citing public safety concerns.
In June and November 2015, testimony statements were given by victims and defense experts in regards to the decision whether Hribal's case should be moved to juvenile court, a process that was finished on April 13, 2016. The prosecution argued that Hribal planned the attack in advance and traumatized his victims and the community, while Hribal's lawyer argued that no one was killed during the stabbings despite the serious injuries inflicted, and that the victims' testimonies indicated they appeared to have moved on. On May 9, 2016, Judge Christopher Feliciani ruled that Hribal will be tried as an adult.
On October 24, 2017, Hribal, then 20, pleaded guilty in the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas to 21 counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault. Defense attorney Thomassey said that the Hribal family wished to spare victims from having to testify and relive the attack at trial. The plea came after Judge Feliciani had denied Thomassey's requests to have the case moved to a juvenile court and, later, to allow Hribal to plead guilty but mentally ill. District Attorney John Peck stated that he planned to push for a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years, while Thomassey said he will argue for "as light a sentence as I can."
On January 22, 2018, Judge Christopher Feliciani sentenced Alex Hribal to serve 23 1⁄2 to 60 years in prison.
The school was not equipped with metal detectors. Since February 2013, the school district has had 130 video cameras from various schools live streamed to police, explained as a precaution against violent incidents. On May 5, 2014, the school distributed clear backpacks to all of its students, courtesy of Monroeville car dealership, #1 Cochran. School district spokeswoman Mary Catherine Reljac said in a statement that the measure was intended to "bring an added sense of safety and security during the school day as the school community continues to heal".
Following the incident, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett visited Murrysville and held a press conference, giving a speech praising the heroes of the rampage, saying, "There are a number of heroes in this day. Many of them are students. Students who stayed with their friends and didn't leave their friends." He also called April 9 another "sad day" in the country and asked if schools should have metal detectors. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr. released a statement on the incident, saying, "I am stunned by the senseless tragedy at Franklin Regional High School. Our schools should be places where children can learn and grow without fear of violence. I am inspired by the bravery of the school personnel and students, and I am grateful for the heroic work of the first responders, emergency and medical personnel who cared for those injured. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the entire Franklin Regional School District."
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