BENTON (Kentucky) • A 15-year-old boy armed with a handgun allegedly walked into a rural high school in Kentucky and opened fire on fellow students, the authorities said, killing two of them before being stopped by a sheriff's deputy.
The shooter, who has not been officially identified, entered a common area at Marshall County High School in Benton shortly before 8am (10pm Singapore time) on Tuesday, pulled out a pistol and began firing at students, witnesses told Kentucky media.
A 911 emergency call was placed soon after and first responders were at the scene by 8.06am, said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.
Mr Bevin said a 15-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene and a 15-year-old boy died in hospital. Twelve other people were shot and five people were treated for other types of injuries.
The suspected shooter was apprehended in a "non-violent" manner, and will be charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder, according to Mr Bevin.
"I see this guy draw from his side and he pulls out a pistol. I didn't even know what was going on. And then it registered. About the time it registered, this guy was sitting here, pulling the trigger into all of us," student Bryson Conkwright told TV station WKRN. "I can hear the gunshots. He was shooting at our group," he added, showing where a bullet grazed his hand.
Doctors at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee, said they treated five boys, aged between 15 and 18, for a range of injuries. One had been shot in the head, a second in the arm, and a third in the chest and abdomen.
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders identified the students killed in the incident as Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting and that he offered "thoughts and prayers" for the victims and their families.
The police commissioner said students had recently undergone training on how to respond to shootings in their school hallways. "The students did exactly as they were trained. Everybody at that high school reacted appropriately."
Kentucky State Police Lieutenant Michael Webb said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the police as they process the scene.
The authorities plan to search the suspect's home as they investigate his motives.
Mr Jeff Edwards, the county attorney, toured the school after the shooting and described evidence of the chaos that unfolded as students arrived at school.
"To walk in, the backpacks lying around, the phones lying around, going off... it's indescribable," Mr Edwards told the Courier-Journal in Louisville. "I've been doing this for 25 years. It's not like anything I've experienced in my life."
The school serves Marshall County, which has a population of about 31,000, and the shooting hit the community hard. Churches held vigils on Tuesday night.
HAPPENED TOO FAST
I see this guy draw from his side and he pulls out a pistol.
I didn't even know what was going on. And then it registered. About the time it registered, this guy was sitting here, pulling the trigger into all of us.
STUDENT BRYSON CONKWRIGHT
"I don't know how to start healing myself, and I don't know how the students will be able to heal because they will have to be in that school every day," said Ms Alexandra Smith, a former student at the school.
WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE