MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – No evidence has surfaced yet to show that a boy charged in a stabbing rampage at his high school was targeting any particular student, and efforts to establish a motive are stalled because the suspect isn't talking and many victims remain hospitalized, a police chief said Friday.
"At this point I don't have anybody that, you know, was targeted," Chief Thomas Seefeld said. "I know the issue of bullying has been brought up but his attorney has even said ... that bullying is not part of this and we have no evidence or reason to believe that it is."
Alex Hribal, 16, is accused of stabbing or slashing 21 students and a guard on Wednesday at the 1,200-student Franklin Regional High School east of Pittsburgh. Charges against him include four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault.
Five students remained hospitalized Friday, with four — one 15-year-old, two 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old — in critical condition, hospital officials said. Three others were released.
Hribal used two kitchen knives he brought from home, his lawyer has said, in an apparent random attack on other students that began just minutes before the start of classes in a crowded hallway, setting off a stampede.
Police said Hribal flailed away with the knives down a long stretch of a hallway, leaving blood on the walls and floor.
Two of the most seriously wounded students were found in a classroom, but it was not known whether they had just sought refuge there or were attacked there, the chief said.
Police cannot get information from Hribal because his attorney, who is seeking a psychiatric evaluation of the boy, "has lawyered him up," Seefeld said.
"It's a little hard to get his side of things right now," he said.
The rampage, which police said lasted only minutes, was stopped when Hribal was tackled by an assistant principal.
After being taken into custody, he made statements suggesting he wanted to die, a prosecutor has said. The chief said Friday that the boy said "he wanted someone to kill him."
The chief and District Attorney John Peck said they are limited in what information they can release because they still have a crime to prosecute, unlike some other school attacks that ended with student gunmen killing themselves.
Still, the chief said, what triggered the attack remains unknown.
"I don't know of anything right now, you know, that would reveal any motive. That's the big question out there," Seefeld said.
Hribal's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment Friday. But he has said the boy's family remains as puzzled as police by the attack.