A staff member who tackled the suspect in a school stabbing rampage Wednesday is a beloved member of the community, the kind of man who "gives people chances."
Police Chief Thomas Seefeld and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett both praised Sam King, assistant principal at Franklin Regional Senior High School in the Pittsburgh suburb of Murrysville.
"Just prior to our arrival and according to the school resource officer, Assistant Principal Sam King did a role that was very admirable," Seefeld said. "Sam was actually able to tackle the suspect, and along with the principal from the high school was able to help with that."
Nineteen students were injured, and an adult security guard suffered a stomach wound, authorities said.
Even more may have been wounded had it not been for the school official's actions, police said.
"I do thank and commend school staff. They played an integral part in this," said Seefeld, the Murrysville police chief. "There was a school principal who actually had contact with the juvenile [suspect] and was able to lead to him being put in custody."
Praise for King poured in via Twitter after the attack, with students calling him a hero.
Paul Dye, a senior at Franklin Regional, told NBC News King is "the greatest guy I ever met."
"Everyone loved him even before this. He’s kind and he gives people chances. He’s nice to everybody,” Dye said.
Julia Bolkovac, 18, who graduated from Franklin Regional and is now a freshman at Penn State University, said King has only been at Franklin Regional for a couple of years, but has been in the school district for years. He was principal at the town's Heritage Elementary School before he moved to the high school, she said.
"He's very good with the kids. When I was in elementary school, he was loved by all the students," she said. "Everyone looked up to him as a principal and a role model."
John Kukalis, who has lived down the street from King and his wife for several years, described him as a "good guy" and "good neighbor."
"I have a son who is a senior at the high school. My son and he talk all the time," Kukalis said.
—Elizabeth Chuck and Tracy Connor
First published April 9 2014, 2:29 PM