Teen Suspect Charged as Adult in School Stabbing Spree

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    NEWSLETTERS

    We are getting our first look at the teen suspect accused of stabbing 21 people inside a Pittsburgh area high school. NBC10's George Spencer reports from the scene of the school violence.

    Police have identified and charged a 16-year-old boy accused of stabbing and slashing 21 fellow students and a security guard at a Pennsylvania high school.

    Authorities confirmed Thursday that Alex Hribal was being charged as an adult following the Wednesday morning attack in Murrysville, 15 miles east of Pittsburgh.

    Suspect in High School Stabbings Led Away by Police

    [PHI] Suspect in High School Stabbings Led Away by Police
    The teen suspect in the Pittsburgh high school stabbings was charged as an adult and identified as 16-year-old Alex Hribal. Check out video of police leading the teen away in handcuffs.

    He appeared before Magisterial District Judge Charles Conway and was charged with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. He was shackled by his hands and feet and was dressed in a hospital gown.

    The teenager's family lives in a two-story home with an attached garage in a nice subdivision of large, newer homes there. No one answered the door or phone calls.

    The FBI was at the house Wednesday night.

    Neighbors say the teenager is the younger of the family's two boys.

    Witnesses say Hribal had a "blank expression" on his face as he carried out the attack before an assistant principal tackled him.

    At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy who was on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, missing his heart and aorta by only millimeters, doctors said.

    The rampage — which came after decades in which U.S. schools geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings set off a screaming stampede, left blood on the floor and walls, and brought teachers rushing to help the victims.

    The motive was under investigation.

    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. It was over in about five minutes, during which the boy ran wildly down about 200 feet of hallway, slashing away with knives about 8 to 10 inches long, police said.

    Nate Moore, 15, said he saw the boy tackle and stab a freshman. He said he going to try to break it up when the boy got up and slashed his 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," Moore said. "He wasn't saying anything. He didn't have any anger on his face. It was just a blank expression."

    Assistant Principal Sam King finally tackled the boy and disarmed him, and a Murrysville police officer who is regularly assigned to the school handcuffed him, police said.

    Doctors said they expect all the victims to survive, despite large and deep abdominal puncture wounds in some cases.

    King's son told The Associated Press that his father was treated at a hospital, though authorities have said he did not suffer any knife wounds.

    "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."

    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. Seefeld didn't specify whether the suspect received or made the call.

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

    He also commended cafeteria workers, teachers and teacher's aides who put themselves at risk to help during the attack.

    While several bloody stabbing rampages at schools in China have made headlines in the past few years, schools in the U.S. have concentrated their emergency preparations on shooting rampages.

    Nevertheless, there have been at least two major stabbing attacks at U.S. schools over the past year, one at a community college in Texas last April that wounded at least 14 people, and another, also in Texas, that killed a 17-year-old student and injured three others at a high school in September.

    On Wednesday, Mia Meixner, 16, said the rampage touched off 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 saw no indication he might be violent.

    "He was never mean to anyone, and I never saw people be mean to him," Meixner said. "I never saw him with a particular group of friends."

    Michael Float, 18, said he had just gotten to school when he saw "blood all over the floor" and smeared on the wall near the main entrance. Then he saw a wounded student.

    "He had his shirt pulled up and he was screaming, 'Help! Help!'" Float said. "He had a stab wound right at the top right of his stomach, blood pouring down."

    Float said he saw a teacher applying pressure to the wound of another student.

    About five minutes elapsed between the time the campus police officer summoned help over the radio at 7:13 a.m. and the boy was disarmed, the police chief said.

    Someone, possibly a student, pulled a fire alarm during the attack, Seefeld said. Although that created chaos, the police chief said, it emptied out the school more quickly, and "that was a good thing that that was done."

    Also, a girl with "an amazing amount of composure" applied pressure to a schoolmate's wounds and probably kept the victim from bleeding to death, said Dr. Mark Rubino at Forbes Regional Medical Center.

    Public safety and school officials said an emergency plan worked as well as could be expected. The district conducted an emergency exercise three months ago and a full-scale drill about a year ago.

    "We haven't lost a life, and I think that's what we have to keep in mind," said county public safety spokesman Dan Stevens.

    The school district, which serves 3,600 students, posted this statement on its website:

    "After a critical incident at Franklin Regional Senior High School this morning, the campus was locked down. Elementary classes were cancelled and high school students were evacuated to the middle school. Law enforcement are working with the school district to manage the situation. 

    Middle school and high school students will only be dismissed to parents.  Parents should report to Heritage Elementary for reunification. All parents will need to sign out students before dismissal. As parents arrive at Heritage Elementary, staff members will escort middle school and high school students to the building for reunification. Any high school student who drove to school will not be permitted to drive home without a parent."

    The district also asks that staff members work with school administrators and law enforcement for the benefit and safety of everyone involved.

    Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett joined local officials to discuss the details of the violent attacks Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. Vigils for the victims are also planned.

    So far, no motive for the stabbings has been determined. 

    This story is developing. Check back with NBC10.com for more details.