Marshall County High School

Taylor Inman

Survivors of gun violence in west Kentucky led protests against the Friday visit of National Rifle Association leader Oliver North to a Republican rally at Murray State University.

Oliver North was invited by the Marshall and Calloway County Republican parties as the featured speaker for their ‘Night Before Fancy Farm’ event. The invitation of North to speak at a local GOP rally sparked an uproar from a community that experienced a deadly school shooting less than seven months ago.

North is a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel and in May was named the next president of the NRA. He is also infamous for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Nicole Erwin

Gun rights and gun violence have dominated national and regional headlines this year, following several shootings, including the deadly shooting last January at Marshall County High School in west Kentucky.

Now, as 3-D printed guns could potentially upend the national conversation, and as the president of the National Rifle Association visits the region on Friday, the Paducah/west Kentucky chapter of the nonpartisan group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America is looking to build consensus on gun safety. Christa Dubrock is the group's Local Lead for Paducah. 

Matt Markgraf

Murray State University is closing early on Friday to accommodate an increased number of visitors for a Republican event featuring National Rifle Association President Oliver North.  

The Republican parties of Marshall and Calloway counties are hosting "The Night Before Fancy Farm." The doors open at 6 p.m. and the event begins at 7 in Lovett Auditorium on the main campus. According to a release, Murray State is closing all campuses from 3 p.m. to 9:30. The university is expecting a large number of visitors on the main campus and is locking all doors south of the Curris Center by 3 p.m. for security purposes.

Creative Commons

State lawmakers on Monday heard recommendations about how to how to make Kentucky schools safer in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marshall County High School earlier this year and similar tragedies across the country.

A group of school safety experts shied away from controversial policies like arming teachers or new gun regulations, instead advising that schools improve security, hire more school resource officers and find new ways to detect and prevent possible shootings.

Deep In Gun Country, Students Speak Out On Gun Violence

Mar 26, 2018
Nicole Erwin

Gun culture runs deep in much of the Ohio Valley, where hunting is a revered tradition and the majority of state lawmakers in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia boast “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association.

But even here the growing national student activism on gun safety is taking hold in the wake of recent school shootings. With some three dozen events in the region coinciding with the national March For Our Lives protest, more students from the region are deciding to speak out.

The Ohio Valley ReSource sampled some student viewpoints from around the region.


After the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, students across the country have raised their voices to protest gun violence: "Enough is enough." "Never again." "Not one more."

For Lela Free, a freshman in Marshall County, Ky., another phrase comes to mind.

"We should have been the last," she says.

Just weeks before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a student armed with a handgun entered Marshall County High School in Kentucky. He killed two students, and injured 18 others.

Rhonda J. Miller

The Bowling Green community is holding a 'March for Our Lives' on Saturday in support of the national event organized to push for stricter gun laws after 17 students and teachers were fatally shot in Parkland, Florida in February. 

The Bowling Green 'March for Our Lives' is mainly to encourage legislators to pass laws to create safer schools and cut down on gun violence. Many students in Kentucky are on edge after two students were shot to death by a classmate at Marshall County High School in January, followed by the massacre at the Florida high school last month.

The Bowling Green march is being coordinated by the Center for Citizenship and Social Justice at Western Kentucky University. Leah Ashwill is director of the center and says speakers at the community event will take a broad view of gun violence.

Students Push As Lawmakers Ponder Gun Safety Bills

Mar 17, 2018
Nicole Erwin

In a recently released court video, Capt. Matt Hilbrecht of the Marshall County, Kentucky, Sheriff’s office testifies about his interrogation of Gabriel Parker, the 15-year-old accused of a mass shooting at Marshall County High School in January.

“We asked him initially when he had the thought of the school shooting,” Hilbrecht begins as he describes the events leading up to the shooting. The recording was released because Parker is being tried as an adult.

Hilbrecht explains how Parker got the 9mm pistol he would use to kill two teens and injure 17 others: Parker found it in his parents’ closet.


Nicole Erwin

In the wake of the January shooting at Marshall County High School, Kentucky lawmakers have advanced a bill that would require schools to employ mental health professionals to recognize symptoms of trauma in students.

Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat from Symsonia whose district includes the high school, said the bill was “born out of tragedy.”

“But we firmly believe that if implemented, this piece of legislation would certainly spare us tragedy in the future,” Coursey said.

Marshall County Circuit Court video screenshot

Marshall County Circuit Court has released previously sealed documents in the case of accused Marshall County High School shooter Gabe Parker.  The Kentucky Court of Appeals ordered Thursday that an arraignment video along with other documents involving the January 23 shooting be released.

Note: Watch Gabe Parker's previously sealed arraignment video below.

The presiding Judge Jamie Jameson had ordered that documents remain closed due to a defense attorney’s questioning of Parker’s due process in juvenile proceedings.  In the arraignment video Jameson, also urged confidentiality of the proceedings in the event that the case moves to trial.

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

A school safety expert told state lawmakers Thursday there’s “no way” arming teachers would make schools safer in the wake of the mass shooting at Marshall County High School.

The Kentucky House and Senate Education committees held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss school safety issues, though no specific pieces of legislation were up for a vote.

President Trump, Gov. Matt Bevin and some Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly have called for allowing teachers to have access to guns on campus in order to defend students against school shooters.

Nicole Erwin

In the wake of school shootings in Kentucky and Florida, a rash of copycat school threats throughout the Ohio Valley left law enforcement and school officials grappling with how to improve security. A school counseling expert says it’s useful to look at the potential school shootings that did not happen. His research focuses on how schools have successfully averted shooting incidents.

Culture of Dignity

Dr. Jeff Daniels, Chair of West Virginia University’s counseling department, interviewed school personnel and law enforcement officers who were able to prevent imminent school shootings.


Law enforcement agencies in Kentucky say their resources are being strained by a rash of threats against schools following last week’s shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.

Extra security is being added at many schools across the commonwealth where students have threatened violence, most often on social media. 

The Logan County Sheriff's Office posted this warning on its Facebook page Tuesday night:

A 15-year-old male student from Barren County is under arrest after threatening violence on social media. 

A student at Glasgow High School told administrators Friday morning about the online post which showed a fellow student holding a gun and knife.  The photo accompanied what police called troubling and disturbing threats.  Glasgow Police Lt. Jimmy Phelps says the threats, however, weren't specific.

"The threats that were made did not mention a person or a location where these treats would be carried out," Phelps told WKU Public Radio.  "It did not name a school and it did not name anyone."

Grand Jury Meeting on Kentucky School Shooting

Feb 13, 2018
Nicole Erwin, WKMS

A Kentucky grand jury is meeting to consider charging a teenager as an adult in a shooting that killed two classmates and wounded many more at Marshall County High School.

In closed proceedings, the grand jury will decide Tuesday whether to indict the 15-year-old boy on charges that would move the case out of juvenile court.

Kentucky State police say that if the teen is indicted, no information will be made public until he's arraigned in Circuit Court, on a date set by a judge.

Pages