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PADUCAH HIGH

The picture on the right is Michael Carneal, the killer in this incident.

On the morning of the shootings, school principal Bill Bond was on the phone when he heard three loud pops followed by a pause. "Then it changed," he recalls. Seven shots came out in perfect rhythm before another pause intervened. Recognizing the sound of semiautomatic gunfire, Bond jumped from his desk. He could hear crying and moaning. Dashing into the lobby, he saw bodies and blood on the ground--and by the cream-colored walls, a .22 Ruger on the floor and two students face to face. Bond kicked the gun away.

Minutes before, at the prayer circle, Strong had seen Carneal enter the lobby, and in his prayer he asked God for strength to last through the day. As the amen was said, the 35 members of the circle squeezed hands--and then came the first shot. "I thought it was probably Mike," says Strong. He turned his eyes on his friend and forcefully said, "Put down the gun." But Carneal continued to fire from the 11-round clip. Strong again spoke the words, receiving only a momentary glance from Carneal. But while other students ran for cover, Strong stood his ground. "What are you doing? Don't shoot. Just put the gun down." When Carneal paused for the second time, Strong took advantage of the silence. "As soon as he paused, I went for him." He rushed up to his friend and pushed him against the wall. The gun fell to their feet. "I didn't know what to do next," he says, "so I stayed right next to Michael." His friend's hands were shaking, and an earplug fell from his ear. Then Carneal looked into Strong's eyes and said in a cracking voice, "Kill me, please. I can't believe I did that."

Carneal had killed three schoolmates, Nicole Hadley, 14, Kayce Steger, 15, and Jessica James, 17. Five others were injured, one of them paralyzed from the waist down. The memorial page for these students created by the school.

Back to Main memorial page.