BENTON, Ky. (AP) -- A 15-year-old student killed two classmates and hit a dozen others with gunfire Tuesday, methodically firing a handgun inside a crowded atrium at his rural Kentucky high school.
"He was determined. He knew what he was doing," said Alexandria Caporali, who grabbed her stunned friend and ran into a classroom as their classmates hit the floor.
"It was one right after another -- bang bang bang bang bang," she added. "You could see his arm jerking as he was pulling the trigger."
He kept firing, she said, until he ran out of ammunition and took off running, trying to get away. Police arrested their suspect moments later, leading him away in handcuffs to be charged with murder and attempted murder. Authorities did not identify the gunman responsible for the nation's first fatal school shooting of 2018, nor did they release any details about a motive.
Kentucky State Police Lt. Michael Webb said detectives are looking into his home and background.
"He was apprehended by the sheriff's department here on site, at the school, thankfully before any more lives could be taken," Webb said.
Seventeen students were injured, 12 of them hit with bullets and five others hurt in the scramble as hundreds of students fled for their lives from Marshall County High School. Many jumped into cars, or ran across fields and down the highway, some not stopping until they reached a McDonald's restaurant more than a mile away. Parents left their cars on both sides of an adjacent road, desperately trying to find their teenagers.
"No one screamed. It was almost completely silent as people just ran," said Caporali, 16. She said most students knew what to do because they are drilled throughout the year on how to respond to an active shooter at school.
The two fatalities were 15 years old: A girl died at the scene, and a boy died later at a hospital, Gov. Matt Bevin said. Officials later identified the girl as Bailey Nicole Holt and the boy as Preston Ryan Cope.
Cope was among five young men, including three with gunshot wounds to the head and one shot in the chest, who were flown about 120 miles (193 kilometers) to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The attack marked the year's first fatal school shooting, 23 days into 2018, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, which relies on media reports and other information. The anti-violence group Everytown for Gun Safety has counted at least 283 shootings at schools since 2013.