MURRYSVILLE, Pa. — When a knife-wielding sophomore stormed out of a classroom in the science wing of Franklin Regional High School Wednesday, instincts kicked in.
In sophomore Brett Hurt’s case, according to his friend Gracey Evans, the instinct was to protect.
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Young Hurt “has a little sister, and he was protecting me like he would protect her,” said Miss Evans, a Murrysville resident and a junior at the school. Young Hurt blocked the knife-wielder, who authorities later identified as Alex Hribal, from reaching Miss Evans, she said.
For that, the Hurt teen took a knife in the back. The Evans family said he was doing well but was expected to remain overnight at Forbes Regional Hospital.
When tragedy strikes, and notably when the victims are young people, heroes are an important part of the healing process, said Anthony P. Mannarino, vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Allegheny General Hospital and director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents.
“These events are horrific,” Dr. Mannarino said. “For others to know that their colleagues or their classmates did the right thing or did an important thing to protect others is always uplifting in these terrible situations.”
“Today, our staff members acted quickly and saved the lives of many students,” Superintendent Gennaro Piraino said, adding the students themselves did the same.
Hope Demont said sophomore Nate Scimio jumped in front of three students who were being attacked.
“There were seniors running everywhere trying to see if they could carry someone, help someone,” she said.
Mark Drear, vice president of Capital Asset Protection, which provides security guards for the school, said pulling the fire alarm spurred an evacuation.
As the suspect continued down the crowded, 200-foot-long science wing of the school, he encountered two security guards and two vice principals.
Ian Griffith, an 18-year-old senior, said he saw assistant principal Sam King talking to the perpetrator, who then stabbed a security guard.
Mr. King jumped on the student and Mr. Griffith said he then jumped on top of the pair. Mr. Griffith said he tried to hold down the suspect’s hands and arms and Mr. King told him to go find an ambulance.
Mr. Griffith went to find help and said that when he returned other staff members were helping to keep the suspect restrained, so he went out to a field where students were gathering.
“I think that Mr. King is the real hero,” Mr. Griffith said.
Mr. King and fellow assistant principal Joan Mellon helped to disarm the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, Miss Evans held a victim who was stabbed in the torso. “I said to a few students, we need pressure on this wound, and they gave me some paper towels, and I held pressure on that wound for about 10 minutes,” she said.
When the injured student began to vomit, the smell overcame Miss Evans. Less than a minute later, medics rushed in and took over.
“I hear my best friend start screaming in pain,” she said of the Hurt youth. “I held his hand.”
Miss Evans said she was taken to Forbes Regional Hospital, where she met with social workers. “Then the mother of the boy that I helped comes in, and she saw me and she just started crying, and I said to her, ‘I saved your son,’ and she started crying some more.”
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rich Lord is a reporter for the Post-Gazette. Post-Gazette reporters Mike Fuoco, Molly Born, and Liz Navratil contributed.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord.