By Ali Gostanian and Corky Siemaszko
Two teenagers were killed and more than a dozen other people were wounded Tuesday when gunfire erupted at a Kentucky high school, prompting panicked students to run for their lives.
A 15-year-old male student at Marshall County High School in Benton was taken into custody and faces possible charges of murder and attempted murder, authorities said. The deceased were also 15—one of them of a girl, the other a boy.
Governor Matt Bevin said there were 19 people were being treated for injuries, 14 of whom suffered gunshot wounds.
Meanwhile, a small town was in shock as teachers and counselors tried to calm terrified students who described the chaos in the classrooms when the bullets started flying.
"They were busting down the gates and fences just to get out," Shea Thompson, whose teenage siblings were inside the school when the shooting started, told NBC News.
Junior Greg Rodgers said when he arrived at school he saw students racing out of the building.
"I pulled off to the side of the road because everyone was running to the main road," Rodgers, 17, said. "I asked my friend what was going on and he told me that there was a school shooting. I was shocked. He said that someone had just shot up the school."
Rodgers said the suspect opened fire as students were heading to classes.
"I'm distraught from all of it. I couldn't really focus driving home. I was shaking a lot driving back to my house. I'm still shaking," he said.
Thompson said her 15-year-old brother Shawn, who is a freshman, called her from the school in "a complete panic" around 8:02 am.
"He was yelling, 'Someone's shooting! Someone's shooting!," said Thompson, 26, of Benton.
Thompson said her 16-year-old sister Kristin, who is a sophomore, was in the commons area near the cafeteria. She said Kristin told her one of the bullets pierced her friend's backpack but he was not hurt.
Clyde Lee was at the local middle school waiting to collect his nephew Isaac Robinson, who is a sophomore and was being bused there from the high school. He said he just learned a young girl they know was badly wounded.
"There are a lot of parents crying," Lee said. "It's a very bad situation here. We had a family friend who was shot in the chest. We don't have any other information on her condition."
Lee said he never dreamed something like this could happen in Benton.
"You never imagine something like this happening in such a small town," he said. "No one should have to go through something like this."
Bevin said: "This is heartbreaking. This will take time to heal. Please respect the families that have lost children."
Detective Jody Cash, a public affairs officer for the Kentucky State Police, was expected to deliver a briefing soon.
Benton is a city of about 4,300 in western Kentucky, about 120 miles northwest of Nashville, Tennessee. It is also about 40 miles southeast of West Paducah, Kentucky, where in 1997 a 14-year-old student at Heath High School killed three and wounded five more as they were praying.
The shooting comes just one day after a 15-year-old girl was wounded at Italy High School in Texas after a 16-year-old suspect opened fire inside the cafeteria. No motive in that incident was immediately given.