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   MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Flailing away with two knives, a 16-year-old boy with a "blank expression" stabbed and slashed 19 students and a police officer in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.
   At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy who was on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, missing his heart and aorta by only millimeters, doctors said.
   The rampage — which came after years in which U.S. schools have geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings — set off a screaming stampede, left blood on the floor and walls, and brought teachers rushing to help the victims.
   The motive was under investigation.
   The suspect, whose name was not immediately released by police, was taken into custody and treated for a minor hand wound. Late in the afternoon, he was brought into court in shackles and a hospital gown to face charges.
   While several bloody stabbing rampages at schools in China have made headlines in the past few years, large-scale knife attacks are almost unheard of in the U.S.
   The attack unfolded in the morning just minutes before the start of classes at 1,200-student Franklin Regional High School, in an upper-middle-class area 15 miles east of Pittsburgh. It was over in a matter of minutes.
   Witnesses said the boy at first tackled a freshman and stabbed him in the belly, then got up and ran wildly down the hall, slashing other students.
   Nate Moore, 15, said he saw the first attack and was going to try to break it up when the boy got up and slashed his face, requiring 11 stitches.
   "It was really fast. It felt like he hit me with a wet rag because I felt the blood splash on my face. It spurted up on my forehead," he said.
   The attacker "had the same expression on his face that he has every day, which was the freakiest part," Moore said. "He wasn't saying anything. He didn't have any anger on his face. It was just a blank expression."
   Doctors said they expect all the victims to survive, despite large and deep abdominal puncture wounds in some cases. The wounded police officer — who was regularly assigned to the campus — was treated and released.
   Authorities credited an assistant principal with subduing the assailant. They gave no details, but students identified the educator as Sam King and told local news organizations that they saw him tackle the boy after the youngster stabbed the campus officer.
   King's son told The Associated Press that his father was treated at a hospital, though authorities have said he did not suffer any knife wounds.
   "He says he's OK. He's a tough cookie and sometimes hides things, but I believe he's OK," Zack King said. He added: "I'm proud of him."
   As for what set off the attack, Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld said investigators were looking into reports of a threatening phone call between the suspect and another student the night before. Seefeld didn't specify whether the suspect received or made the call.
   Mia Meixner, 16, said the initial assault touched off a "stampede of kids" yelling, "Run! Get out of here! Someone has a knife!"
   Meixner and Moore called the attacker a shy and quiet boy who largely kept to himself, but they said he was not an outcast and they saw no indication before the attack that he might be violent.
   "He was never mean to anyone, and I never saw people be mean to him," Meixner said. "I never saw him with a particular group of friends."
   During the attack, the boy had a "blank look," she said. "He was just kind of looking like he always does, not smiling, not scowling or frowning."
   Michael Float, 18, said he had just gotten to school when he saw "blood all over the floor" and smeared on the wall near the main entrance. Then he saw a wounded student.
   "He had his shirt pulled up and he was screaming, 'Help! Help!'" Float said. "He had a stab wound right at the top right of his stomach, blood pouring down."
   Float said he saw a teacher applying pressure to the wound of another student.
   Someone, possibly a student, pulled a fire alarm after seeing some of the stabbings, the police chief said. Although that created chaos, Seefeld said, it emptied out the school more quickly, and "that was a good thing that that was done."
   Also, a girl with "an amazing amount of composure" applied pressure to a schoolmate's wounds and probably kept the victim from bleeding to death, said Dr. Mark Rubino at Forbes Regional Medical Center.
   Public safety and school officials said an emergency plan worked as well as could be expected. The district conducted an emergency exercise three months ago and a full-scale drill about a year ago.
   "We haven't lost a life and I think that's what we have to keep in mind," said county public safety spokesman Dan Stevens.

 

Published in National News

WEST READING, Pa. (AP) — Thousands of Christmas carolers are gathered to sing outside the home of a terminally ill Pennsylvania girl.

The singers are fulfilling one of 8-year-old Delaney Brown's wishes: a huge holiday sing-along outside her West Reading home. On her "Team Laney" Facebook page, a picture of Delaney giving two thumbs up was accompanied by the text, "I can hear you now!!! Love you!"

Delaney was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in May. Her family says earlier this week doctors gave her only days to live.

Supporters have been trying to fulfill a number of Delaney's wishes. She video chatted with singer Taylor Swift on Friday, her eighth birthday.

Published in National News
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Church officials have defrocked a United Methodist pastor from central Pennsylvania who officiated his son's gay wedding in Massachusetts.
 
The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon had already been suspended. On Thursday, he met with church officials to determine whether he would continue as a pastor.
 
Schaefer was told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer says the book discriminates against gay people and says he wouldn't voluntarily surrender his credentials.
 
Church spokesman John Coleman says officials decided to defrock him.
 
Schaefer left the short meeting with church officials without commenting but planned to address the matter later Thursday.
Published in National News

A terminally ill 2-year-old western Pennsylvania boy who served as his parents' best man at their wedding last weekend has died, according to his mother's Facebook page and a family friend.

Christine Swidorsky Stevenson's Facebook post said little Logan Stevenson died Monday night in her arms at the home she shared with the boy's father, her new husband, Sean Stevenson. The couple live in Jeannette, about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh, and were wed Saturday at a ceremony at their home.

The boy, who had leukemia and other complications, was dressed in a tan pinstripe suit and orange shirt for the wedding. His mother carried him on her shoulder, before he stood and was held by his grandmother, Debbie Stevenson, to witness the 12-minute ceremony.

A family spokeswoman, Sylvia Johnson of Youngwood, confirmed Logan's death for The Associated Press on Tuesday. She later released a brief statement from his parents saying: "Logan passed away at 8:18 yesterday evening, surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was very comfortable."

His mother said on Facebook, "He is with angels and he's in no more pain."

The post indicates the boy's breathing became labored before his mother called a hospice worker who told the couple he was dying.

"Sean and I held him all day he was comfortable with his medication then at 8:18 my son took his last breath in my arms," his mother wrote.

She also thanked those who supported the couple during the boy's illness and wedding plans.

"We love all of u for all your prayers thank u all for caring god bless u all!" she wrote. "And most of all god bless Logan I'll c u in my dreams my son."

The Stevensons abandoned an original wedding date of July 2014 after learning from doctors late last month that their son had two to three weeks to live. The couple wanted Logan to see them marry and to be part of family photos.

Logan, who was born Oct. 22, 2010, was diagnosed shortly after his first birthday with acute myeloid leukemia. He had Fanconi anemia, a rare disease that often leads to cancer.

He underwent a stem cell transplant in July 2012. Last March, he had surgery to remove a kidney ravaged by a tumor.

During a trip to Disney World in June, Logan fell ill. He was hospitalized in Florida before he was flown back to Pittsburgh.

During a trip to the emergency room last month, a test revealed a mass in his remaining kidney, which led to his terminal prognosis.

The boy's parents kept him at home in his final days, after doctors told them he'd likely be more comfortable there, provided he was properly medicated.

 
Published in National News

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