Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 09, 2014

Search for answers in Pa. school stabbing

Several were injured in a stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School in Pennsylvania Wednesday. KDKA radio’s Bill Rehkopf, an alum of the school, and retired ATF Special Agent Jim Cavanaugh discuss.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> welcome back, everybody fblt we are continuing to follow breaking news unfolding right now in pennsylvania. 19 students and a security guard were injured in a stabbing rampage at a high school in murrysville outside of pittsburgh . pennsylvania governor tom corbett will visit franklin regional high school sometime today. the suspect is in custody. he has been identified as a 16-year-old sophomore at the school . joining me now is katy, radio's bill raycough, reporting from the school today. and is also an alum of this very school . bill, thank you so much for calling in. do we know --

>> thank you very much.

>> do we know how school officials stopped this attack?

>> we're hearing stories of heroism, not only school officials, but possibly students who got in the way of this young 16-year-old sophomore who was wielding the knife. but ultimately at the end of it, it was the school 's principal , we're hearing, and a school police officer , murrysville police officer stationed at the school , who took this guy into custody. but not before 20 people were wounded, including one of the security guards .

>> dramatic story. and something that enlisted the entire school in the responsibility, going to others on how schools should respond to this in the future as the hour goes on. tell us about your own personal experience with this school . i know you went there for high school . what kind of a community is it?

>> it's a very nice bedroom community of pittsburgh , about 18 miles east of the city. it was an area that i grew up in. and obviously, i graduated from franklin back in the '80s. i had left town, worked in other markets for a long time. but when i came back to pittsburgh , i loved it enough, and the schools were such that why wouldn't i want to raise my own kids in the same school district . in fact, i have a girl in the middle school , and a son in one of the elementary schools . a very quiet community, as big a bedroom community as it is, throughout xhcommunity functions, and a community where a lot of people know each other very well.

>> are you hearing anything from contacts who teach at the school ?

>> yeah. you know, i have seen some notes from some folks who teach there, and are glad to be out. and some of my colleagues in the business actually, i went to school with here, who are registering their shock at it as well. as a matter of fact, one of my classmates from the '80s, her nephew is one of those wounded today and is in surgery. so you never leave the ties. it was a wonderful place to attend school . it's still a wonderful place to attend. and so many people who care about their students, it's just one of those places that if you attend school there, like my kids do, you're pretty blessed to be there.

>> all right. our thoughts are with all of those people that you just mentioned. and the community that you grew up in there. thank you so much. kdk's bill raycough. appreciate you joining us.

>>> again, we're hearing that the school principal at the school helped to bring the suspect into custody. to discuss all of that, and the culture of school violence , i'm joined by jim cavanaugh, retired agent in charge. thank you so much, sir, for being here. as a former negotiator, what could this situation have been like for the school principal who had to talk down a violent suspect with apparently two knives?

>> right. you know, it's vulgar criminality that meets incredible courage. that's what you saw today. this is -- a knife attack is a unique attack. it can be countered by, you know, distance. so when you saw the police chief say it was a good thing, it can also be countered by picking up a chair to keep the person away from you. it's a little different from a firearms attack. a table, a chair can separate you from the assailant. here we have a berserk 16-year-old, and we're going to find out, as the story unfolds, that there were probably some subtle signs. and where we fail, collectively, not anybody in particular, but where we fail collectively is we don't read the subtle signs. as a negotiator you're always looking for the subtle signs that will tell you something is afoot behaviorally or mentally. they're always subtle.

>> we do have photos of the suspect in custody, of course, the face blurred out, because that's a minor. that is this young suspect being taken in. please continue. and i do, i also want to ask you, since in your experience, you've looked at these kinds of attacks. for everyone at home envisioning what this would be like if they were there, if their child was there, what do you advise people do? if you're in the middle of this, what's the first step you take?

>> the first thing you do in a knife attack like this is to get away. i think that's what the students did. they ran, the fire alarm was pulled, they ran away. so distance is safe -- it makes you safer in a knife attack. if you cast get away, you pick up a chair, a few of you pick up a table to separate you from the assailant, so you have a better chance in a knife attack than a firearm, because it's a defense. so you can use objects, you can get away. you can get far enough away from the person and you can't be hurt. but where we fail on all of these things, i think, ronan, collectively, and where we need to change is, we fail by not leveraging the technology that can help us reduce the injuries. what i say is, even in ft. hood, the navy yard , you can take this school shooting , we need to get the school resource officer in quicker than we do. today it was maybe 15 minutes . but if we could get them there in six or seven minutes -- now, you have distance and it's a large facility and you have to run. but we have the technology that we don't use, we have the smartphones.

>> we heard there was a lot of texting and calling in and out of that school which helped to alert first responders.

>> but it's too slow. what happens is, we've not leveraged it like we should. in other words, there should be a way, whether it's an app or a software that people in a facility, ft. hood, the school , can hit some buttons on their app, on their smartphone, and it can go right into the ear of the resource officer. man in the gym with a rifle, man in the gym with a rifle. the software should be able to not keep giving the officer the same report, but it could then give them the movement.

>> we certainly come out of this experience with high hopes there will be these kinds of improvements. thank you. we just learned this moment that president obama has been briefed on this situation happening right