School stabbings: Students still asking why; 4 in critical condition

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. -- Students at Franklin Regional Senior High School, still mystified at what could have provoked a shy sophomore boy accused in the mass stabbing of 21 people, wished the best Friday for four classmates who remained in critical condition.

One student in critical condition at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital was scheduled to undergo additional surgery Friday. The boy was pierced in the liver, close to his heart, a doctor said. At Forbes Regional Hospital, three boys, ages 15, 16 and 16, were listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Listed in fair condition were two boys at Forbes and two boys at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Officials had yet to determine when the school would reopen. On Friday morning, flowers adorned its entrance and signs on the main thoroughfare read “Lord Heal Us” and “Stay Strong Murrysville.”

Alex Hribal, 16, has been charged as an adult with homicide and aggravated assault in the mass stabbing attack. His attorney, Patrick Thomassey, has said Hribal didn't have a history of mental illness, violent behavior or suffering from bullying in the "classical" sense.

But the attorney said he would seek mental health examinations for the teenager in the coming days and try to move the case to juvenile court, where a sentence behind bars might end up being years instead of decades if Hribal is convicted.

About a block from the school Friday, Rev. Curtis Paul II, pastor of Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church, described the mood in the community 22 miles east of Pittsburgh as “sad, very sad.”

He said the community was pulling together, noting that his church and a number of others were full the night after the stabbings.

A fund has been set up in the community to help pay the medical bills of the injured.

“Many are continuing to ask why,” he said. “That question will probably not be answered.”

Students and parents on social media spent much of Thursday thanking pupils and teachers who helped treat students immediately after the stabbing spree. Among the dozen students being called out for acts of bravery were Gracey Evans, Kelvin Liu and Alex Pasculle.

Liu, a senior, and teacher James Passarelli were the only two people already inside his environmental science classroom when they heard screams and then the fire bell. They let two girls and three injured boys into the classroom.

The pair and then others who arrived later began applying pressure to the boys’ cuts.

In a Facebook post, Liu said he “felt the sickly warmth of the paper towels underneath my hands as I tried to put pressure on a dark wound of a stranger,” causing him to feel fear like never before. Liu said he focused on a teenager who was stabbed in the back.

A student who had suffered a stab to the stomach moved to an attached storage room. He soon received help from Pasculle, an EMT and another student at the school, who was allowed into the locked room.

After getting a chance to reflect on what had happened, Liu asked that classmates do some soul-searching.

“I cannot pin the fault of this on anyone, because I do not know the perpetrator or the situations he may or may not have experienced at Franklin,” Liu wrote. “All I can say is this: We should speak a little softer, judge a little less, and open our arms to everyone, as we should have done even before.”

As terrible as the past couple days have been, nothing is more heart warming than seeing all the support for each other and our community.

— Samantha Miller (@sam_miller13) April 11, 2014

— Alexis Martonik (@lleeexxx) April 11, 2014

absolutely life changing experience for me. these are those moments that I'll never forget. #FRstrong

— lari kee (@karrriiii_xoxo) April 11, 2014

the amount of love and support we all have for each other makes me so proud to be a part of franklin regional

— Trinity McCool (@trinititty) April 11, 2014

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