- (Photo: REUTERS/WPXI/Handout via Reuters)
A mass stabbing at a Pennsylvania high school near Pittsburgh on Wednesday left 20 people wounded, including four seriously. Authorities have taken a 16-year-old male student into custody.
Nineteen of those wounded are said to be students. The attack apparently occurred before classes began, with a security guard at Franklin Regional High School notifying authorities at 7:13 a.m.
"Everyone was screaming and people were being trampled over. It was a very bad scene. I was very scared," student Alicia Graham told Fox News.
Graham characterized the suspect, who wasn't named yet, as a "small, skinny" classmate who didn't talk much.
Roberta Cook, a Franklin Regional School Board director and member of the safety committee, said the school has a well-practiced procedure for such events, and expressed relief that the 16-year-old suspect had not used a gun.
"But I'm just glad it wasn't a shooter, because if it had been a shooter, there would have been fatalities," Cook noted.
Dr. Timothy VanFlee, chief of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who treated six of the victims, told CNN that the victims were not immediately aware of what happened.
"They just felt pain and noticed they were bleeding," Dr. VanFleet said.
Student Mia Meixner said that she was standing at her locker when she witnessed the attack.
"I heard a big commotion like behind my back. And I turned around and I saw two kids on the ground," Meixner said.
"I started hearing a stampede of students coming down from the other end of the hall, saying 'Get out, we need to leave, go, there's a kid with a knife.' Then a teacher came over to me and the girl I was trying to help. And she said she would handle the girl and that I should run out. So then I just ran out of the school and tried to get out as soon as possible," she continued.
Dan Stevens, a spokeswoman for Westmoreland County emergency management, said no motive has been established yet behind the attack.
Superintendent Dr. Gennaro Piraino wrote in a statement on the school's website following the attack:
"As a school community our focus is on our students and staff as well as their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and all of those affected by this awful tragedy. As a school community, we pray every day that this doesn't happen in any school.
"As a school community, we pray every day that this doesn't happen in any school. Today, our school community experienced a terrible tragedy. The actions and response of our staff, students, and law enforcement officers saved many lives. Our emergency responders provided critical support and medical assistance. We will continue to work in cooperation with local law enforcement in the coming days."