After two students opened fire at their high schools this week, bishops in the US have offered prayers and condolences for the victims and their families.
“Over the past two days in Kentucky and Texas, we have witnessed painful reminders of how gun violence can tragically alter the lives of those so precious to us — our school children,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“We pray for eternal rest for those who have died. Let us pray, too, for the families, teachers and friends who must now endure the suffering of losing those dearest to them,” he said in a Jan. 23 statement.
One shooting took place on the morning of Jan. 22 at Italy High School in Italy, Texas, about 50 miles south of Dallas, in which a teenaged girl was injured.
And a student opened fire Jan. 23 at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., about 120 miles southwest of Owensboro, killing two students and injuring 20 others.
Cardinal DiNardo said that “We stand in solidarity with the children who face a long road of recovery from serious injuries. May they find comfort in a loving community. As Christians, we experience this pain as if it were our own.”
“Let us reach out in compassion to assist the grieving and may we move forward in greater resolve to treat one another as children of God, so that unthinkable acts like this become more and more rare and love more and more present in the world.”
Bishop William Medley of Owensboro said Jan. 23 in response to the Marshall County shooting, “I offer my prayers for the victim, those injured and the shooter who is now in custody. May the Lord bring comfort to the family who lost their loved one today, and to all of the students and their families who have to endure the aftermath of this school shooting. Let us all pray for peace across our nation.”
And Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said Jan. 24 that “I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and their friends, teachers and staff as well as the first responders and the whole community of Benton.”
“We know that God’s love overcomes all evil. May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may God’s merciful love sustain the victims and those who love and support them as they heal from the physical and emotional wounds of this senseless act of violence.”
The Benton shooter was a a 15-year-old male carrying a handgun. Baily Holt was killed at the scene and Preston Cope died at a trauma center shortly after; both were students. Within minutes after the first shot was fired, police were able to apprehend the shooter.
The Italy offender was a 16-year-old male student who used a handgun to open fire in the school cafeteria. According to the Associated Press, the shooter had been penalized before for violence within the classroom.
A 15-year-old girl is reported to have been the only person wounded, and she was airlifted to a nearby hospital soon after the incident.