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Friday 22 August 2014

Baby-faced teen charged over school knife frenzy

Rachael Alexander in Los Angeles

Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30

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A still image from video footage courtesy WPXI-TV shows stabbing suspect Alex Hribal dressed in a hospital gown after his arraignment with Sheriff's deputies in Export, Pennsylvania April 9, 2014. Photo: Reuters.
A still image from video footage courtesy WPXI-TV shows stabbing suspect Alex Hribal dressed in a hospital gown after his arraignment with Sheriff's deputies in Export, Pennsylvania April 9, 2014. Photo: Reuters.

A baby-faced teenager has been charged over the stabbing of 22 people at a Pittsburgh high school.

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Alex Hribal (16), was charged with four counts of attempted murder after the horriffic attack. At the brief hearing, District Attorney John Peck said that after he was seized, Hribal made comments to police suggesting that he wanted to die.

Defence lawyer Patrick Thomassey described him as a good student who got along with others, and asked for a full psychiatric examination.

The attack unfolded in the morning just minutes before the start of classes at 1,200-student Franklin Regional High School, in an upper-middle-class area 15 miles east of Pittsburgh when the corridors were packed with students and teachers.

It was over in about five minutes, during which the boy ran wildly down about 60 metres of hallway, slashing away with knives about 10 inches long, police said.

Nate Moore (15), said he saw the boy tackle and knife a freshman. He said he was going to try to break it up when the boy got up and slashed Moore's face, opening a wound that required 11 stitches. "It was really fast. It felt like he hit me with a wet rag because I felt the blood splash on my face. It spurted up on my forehead," he said.

The attacker "had the same expression on his face that he has every day, which was the freakiest part," he said. "He wasn't saying anything. He didn't have any anger on his face. It was just a blank expression."

Mia Meixner (16), said the rampage saw a "stampede of kids" yelling, "Run! Get out of here! Someone has a knife!"

The boy had a "blank look," she said. "He was just kind of looking like he always does, not smiling, not scowling or frowning."

Meixner and Moore called the attacker a shy boy who largely kept to himself, but they said he was not an outcast and they had no reason to think he might be violent.

Assistant Principal Sam King finally tackled the boy and disarmed him, and a police officer handcuffed him, police said.

King's son said that his father was treated at a hospital, though authorities said he was not knifed.

"He says he's OK. He's a tough cookie and sometimes hides things, but I believe he's OK," Zack King said. He added: "I'm proud of him."

In addition to the 22 stabbed or slashed, two people suffered other injuries, according to police.

The security guard, who was wounded after intervening early in the melee, was not seriouisly hurt.

'HEROES'

"There are a number of heroes in this day. Many of them are students," Governor Tom Corbett said during a visit to the stricken town. "Students who stayed with their friends and didn't leave their friends."

As for what set off the attack, Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld said investigators were looking into reports of a threatening phone call between the suspect and another student the night before.

The FBI joined the investigation and went to the boy's house, where authorities said they planned to confiscate and search his computer.

"They are a very, very nice family. A great family. We never saw anything out of the ordinary," said John Kukalis, a next-door neighbour for 13 years.

US schools have concentrated their emergency preparations on shooting rampages.

Irish Independent

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