Franklin Regional incident hits too close to home

Published Apr 16, 2014 at 6:18 am (Updated Apr 15, 2014 at 10:24 am)

L ast week, the all too familiar news of school violence hit close to home when 16-year old Alex Hribal allegedly went on a stabbing spree at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville. The incident proves that no high school, no neighborhood, no one is immune to the senseless violence that is plaguing our nation.

School resumed yesterday, as those directly involved in the incident – witnesses, victims, heroes – were able to walk the halls and talk with teachers and counselors in the morning, and the rest of the school’s population reported in the afternoon. It is the beginning of the return to normalcy, albeit a new “normal.” The scars, both physical and psychological, will remain with the students and teachers forever.

Because Hribal isn’t talking – he’s been repeatedly described as a “deer in headlights,” showing no emotion whatsoever – the motive behind the attacks is, at the time of this writing, still a mystery. Investigators haven’t ruled bullying out, but Hribal’s family has said he wasn’t bullied, and there has not been any evidence to suggest that he was. He has no behavior history or any known mental issues.

Clearly, though, somewhere something went very, very wrong with Alex Hribal. With any luck, as the investigation continues, it can shed some light on why he felt he had to commit the horrible act.

As bad as the incident was, it could have been much worse. Thanks to the bravery and quick action of assistant principal Sam King, who tackled Hribal to the ground and stopped the attacks, and student Nate Scimio, who pulled the fire alarm to get students and teachers to evacuate the building, the number of those injured or wounded was 21, and the number of fatalities was zero. Had Hribal’s weapon of choice been a gun, the end results would have been very different.

We urge parents to take this as an opportunity to really talk to their children. Find out how they cope with day to day life, if they are being bullied, if they are bullying, if they have any violent fantasies, if they feel isolated or alone, and so on. Perhaps the conversation can help avoid another incident, and get the child the help that he or she so desperately needs.

If a conversation can prevent just one such incident, imagine how many lives can be saved.

We sincerely hope that this is the last such editorial that this paper runs.

comments powered by Disqus