Reporter covering Kentucky school shooting discovers the suspect is her son

Authorities investigate the scene of school shooting in rural Kentucky on Jan. 23. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)
Authorities investigate the scene of school shooting in rural Kentucky on Jan. 23. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)

The editor of the Marshall County Daily in Benton, Ky., rushed to the local high school on Tuesday where the aftermath of a school shooting was just beginning to unfurl.

And it wasn’t just to cover what would become a national news story — her son was a student at Marshall County High. When she got there, however, she made a gruesome discovery: Her son was the alleged shooter.

According to law enforcement, 15-year-old Gabe Parker walked into the school earlier that morning and opened fire with a handgun on students in a common area, killing two and wounding 14 more before being apprehended by first responders. Five of those shot are in critical condition.

Three other students were injured as they rushed to escape the school, some running as far as a mile down an adjacent highway to get to safety.

Parker’s mother, Mary Garrison Minyard, has not made any public statements and has apparently deleted her Facebook account in the wake of the shooting.

The Marshall High incident was the first mass shooting of 2018. Parker’s motives are still unknown, but a local prosecutor, Mark Blankenship, told Reuters in an email that the gunman apparently chose his targets at random.

“The video clearly shows what happened,” Blankenship wrote, referring to security camera footage from the school. “We have no information to indicate that he had any particular target in mind.”

The governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, said in a press conference that Parker will be charged with both murder and attempted murder. “This is a wound that is going to take a long time to heal, and some will never fully heal,” said Bevin.

Authorities believe Parker acted alone. “There doesn’t appear to be anyone else involved,” said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders at a press conference.

Bevin, a Republican and social conservative, has said he will not push for tougher gun legislation in the aftermath of the incident, calling school shootings a “cultural problem” at an event on Friday.

“We have become desensitized to death, we have become desensitized to killing, we have become desensitized to empathy for our fellow man, and it’s coming at an extraordinary price, and we have got to look at the root cause of this,” Bevin told the audience.

His colleague Steve West, a Republican state senator, introduced legislation this week that would allow schools to hire armed marshals to protect students. The proposal has some bipartisan support: Democratic state Sen. Ray Jones said, “We need armed officers in every school in Kentucky. That is a small price to pay if it saves one child’s life.”

Others are skeptical of the plan. Democratic state Rep. Attica Scott from Louisville said she is “definitely an advocate for gun safety, and to me more guns is not the answer to gun violence.”

Scott has introduced her own proposals that would ban those convicted of hate crimes from owning guns and impose stricter rules on gun sellers.

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