17:58 PM

Ky. Cadet Assists Fellow Students After Deadly High School Shooting

Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Jarrett Pearson, a member of Civil Air Patrol’s Kentucky Wing, was standing 15 feet away when deadly gunfire erupted at a rural high school Tuesday and responded by coming to the assistance of fellow students, his squadron commander said.

One 15-year-old student died at the scene at Marshall County High School in Benton, authorities said. Another 15-year-student died shortly afterward at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The accused gunman, a 15-year-old student whose name hasn’t been released because of his age, has been charged in juvenile court with two counts of murder and 12 counts of first-degree assault, authorities said Wednesday. Along with the two slain students, 18 other teens were injured, 14 from gunshot wounds, according to authorities.

Pearson “helped get people to safety,” said Capt. William Hosick, commander of the Kentucky Lakes Cadet Squadron.

The squadron’s public affairs officer, 2nd Lt. Nanette Lawley, said she spoke to Pearson’s mother, Stephanie Gourieux, Tuesday. “She told me his CAP training really came into play yesterday and was very helpful,” Lawley said.

Knowing Pearson, she said, “I can see him doing that. I can see him going to people injured and helping them and comforting them and saying, ‘You go over there.’”

Gourieux said her son told her he particularly drew on his CAP training in checking fellow students for shock. "He was trying to help everybody he could," she said.

His squadron is a small one, Hosick said, with only eight senior members and 11 cadets. Such a tragedy strikes the members especially hard, he said.

Fellow Kentucky Wing members are stepping up to provide support, he added. The squadron’s regular Thursday night meeting has been moved to a space donated by the Kentucky Dam Village Convention Center in Gilbertville, and the extra room will be able to accommodate a host of visitors – including Col. Darrel Williamson, Kentucky Wing commander; Lt. Col. Bob Sobotka, wing vice commander; the wing’s senior noncommissioned officer, Senior Master Sgt. Cory Felts; Lt. Col. Mike Bryant, Group II commander; and several chaplains, Hosick said. Refreshments for the meeting are being donated by the local Food Giant, Lawley said.

In addition, members of the Paducah Cadet Squadron, which Hosick described as “our sister squadron,” will attend as well. The two units frequently meet together, he said. “Their cadets and our cadets are extremely close.”

Lawley said that as soon as she heard about the shootings, her first thought was “where’s my cadets?” because she knew her 6-year-old son was safe, as his school had been placed on lockdown. She knew Hosick would be concerned with his own son, who attends a private school across the street from Marshall High, she said. Meanwhile, younger cadets in the Kentucky Lakes squadron waited at North Marshall Middle School – evacuation destination for the high school students – for word on the shooting.

As for coping with the shootings, she said, “It’s about how you pick yourself up and go forward, and try to make everything a positive, somehow.”