BENTON, Ky. -- Prosecutors plan to recommend that a 15-year-old boy suspected of killing two of his classmates andTuesday face two charges of murder and 12 assault counts. Assistant Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall told reporters Wednesday that his office initially planned to charge the boy with 12 counts of attempted murder, but feel they have a better case under the assault charge.
Darnell noted that assault and attempted murder carry the same potential penalties, but said in the future the assault counts could be upgraded.
Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both 15, were killed and another 18 people injured in the Tuesday morning attack in the school's busy atrium, a common area in the center of Marshall County High School, where several hallways meet and children gather before classes.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin about the shooting. Bevin left the state capital soon after reports of the shooting emerged Tuesday, flying across the state to arrive at the scene within hours.
The trauma consumed the rural town of about 4,300 people, where nearly everyone has a connection to the school. Parents left cars on both sides of an adjacent road, desperately trying to find their teenagers; business owners pulled fleeing children to safety; a state trooper rushed to the school, terrified he would find his own daughter among the dead.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the 15-year-old suspect, now in police custody, who they said walked into the school armed with a pistol just before 8 a.m. and immediately started firing.
Darnell said a grand jury will convene in the case on Feb. 13.
The teen has been appointed an attorney and is being held at a regional juvenile jail in Paducah, Kentucky, a town that has had its own experience with a mass school shooting.
In 1997 a student opened fire at a high school in Paducah, killing three and injuring five.