Police: No known target in Pennsylvania school stabbing rampage

A still image from video footage courtesy WPXI-TV shows stabbing suspect Alex Hribal dressed in a hospital gown after his arraignment with Sheriff's deputies in Export, Pennsylvania April 9, 2014. REUTERS

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. -- No evidence has surfaced yet to show that a boy charged in a stabbing rampage at his high school was targeting any particular student, and efforts to establish a motive are stalled because the suspect isn't talking and many victims remain hospitalized, a police chief said Friday.

"At this point I don't have anybody that, you know, was targeted," Chief Thomas Seefeld said. "I know the issue of bullying has been brought up but his attorney has even said ... that bullying is not part of this and we have no evidence or reason to believe that it is."

Alex Hribal, 16, is accused of stabbing or slashing 21 students and a guard on Wednesday at the 1,200-student Franklin Regional High School east of Pittsburgh. Charges against him include four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault.

Eight students remain hospitalized Friday, four in critical condition after one was downgraded, hospital officials said.

CBS News has learned the two knives Hribal allegedly used came from the family kitchen. The apparent random attack on other students began just minutes before the start of classes in a crowded hallway, setting off a stampede.

"There is no history here. There has to be a reason why his occurred. People just don't decide to do what he allegedly did at the spur of the moment," said the boy's lawyer, Patrick Thomassey.

Hribal was dazed "like a deer in the headlights" hours later and doesn't fully grasp what he did, Thomassey said Thursday as he sketched out the beginnings of a possible mental health defense.

Police said Hribal flailed away with the knives down a long stretch of a hallway, leaving blood on the walls and floor.

Two of the most seriously wounded students were found in classrooms, but it was not known whether they had just sought refuge there or they were attacked there, the chief said.

Police cannot get information from Hribal because his attorney, who is seeking a psychiatric evaluation of the boy, "has lawyered him up," Seefeld said.

"It's a little hard to get his side of things right now," he said.

The rampage, which police said lasted only minutes, was stopped when Hribal was tackled by an assistant principal.

After being taken into custody, he made statements suggesting he wanted to die, a prosecutor has said.

The chief said Friday that the boy said "he wanted someone to kill him."

Sixteen-year-old Brett Hurt, one of the victims of the attack, said Thursday that he met the suspect a couple of times but didn't really know him. CBS station KDKA reported that Hurt theorized as to why his classmate would have going on such a stabbing rampage.

"I've been thinking, maybe if he had more friends or somebody to help him out or, like, to show him a different path, it would have been different," he said.

The chief and District Attorney John Peck said they are limited in what information they can release because they still have a crime to prosecute, unlike some other school attacks that ended with student gunmen killing themselves.

Still, the chief said, what triggered the attack remains unknown.

"I don't know of anything right now, you know, that would reveal any motive. That's the big question out there," Seefeld said.

Hribal's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment Friday. But he has said the boy's family remains as puzzled as police by the attack.


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