When a knife-wielding, black-clad sophomore stormed out of a classroom in the science wing of Franklin Regional High School on Wednesday, instincts kicked in.
In sophomore Brett Hurt's case, according to his friend Gracey Evans, the instinct was to protect.
Brett "has a little sister, and he was protecting me like he would protect her," said Gracey, a Murrysville resident and a junior at the school. Brett blocked the knife-wielder, who authorities later identified as Alex Hribal, from reaching Gracey, she said.
Student talks about life-saving efforts inside school
Gracey Evans, a student at Franklin Regional High School, talks about applying pressure to the wound a classmate suffered in the stabbing assault. Her efforts may have helped save a life. (Video by Bob Donaldson; 4/9/2014)
Franklin student helped assistant principal subdue suspect
Ian Griffith, a student at Franklin Regional High School, talked about helping an assistant principal, Sam King, subdue the suspect in today's stabbing rampage. (Video by Robin Rombach; 4/9/2014)
For that, Brett took a knife in the back. According to the Evans family, 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 chair 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," said Mr. Mannarino. "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," Franklin Regional 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 suddenly 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 at Franklin Regional, said he saw assistant principal Sam King talking to the suspect, 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 contained, so he went out to the field where students were gathering.
"I think that Mr. King is the real hero," Mr. Griffith said.
Connor Wolff, also an 18-year-old senior at the school, said he felt Mr. Griffith was being too humble. "I'm glad my best friend ... was there to be a real hero," he said of Mr. Griffith.
Mr. King and fellow assistant principal Joan Mellon helped to disarm the suspect. A police officer handcuffed him and took him into custody.
Meanwhile, as Brett lay on his stomach, Gracey 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 Gracey. Less than a minute later, medics rushed in and took over.
"I hear my best friend start screaming in pain," Gracey said of Brett. "I held his hand."
Gracey said that 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."
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord. Mike Fuoco, Molly Born and Liz Navratil contributed.