HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A western Pennsylvania man was sentenced on Monday to up to 60 years in prison for stabbing 20 fellow students and a security guard with two kitchen knives in a high school rampage in 2014.
Alex Hribal, now 20, was 16 years old at the time of the attack at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, 18 miles (30 km) east of Pittsburgh. He suffered from pre-schizophrenia symptoms, according to court documents. (reut.rs/2mZVjba)
“I feel horrible about everything,” Hribal said at the sentencing in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.
“There’s no words I can use, and nothing I can say, to make it all better. There’s nothing I can say to fix it,” he said.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani sentenced Hribal to 23-1/2 to 60 years behind bars and ordered him to pay $269,000 in restitution.
“Each of the victims was consulted. They wanted 30-60 years,” Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said.
Hribal pleaded guilty in October to 21 counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
The guilty pleas followed two failed defense requests. The first was to move the case to juvenile court where, if convicted of the crimes, Hribal would have been free at age 21.
Judge Feliciani also turned down a request to plead guilty but mentally ill, which would have delayed prison time until Hribal’s mental state improved after treatment at a mental health facility.
After both requests failed, the Hribal family opted to spare the victims from reliving the horror through a trial, defense lawyer Patrick Thomassey said.
The slashing spree ended when Hribal was tackled by Assistant Principal Sam King, who testified at a previous court hearing that the teen said: “‘I am not going to drop the knives, my work is not finished, there’s more people to be killed.’”
At the same hearing, several mental health professionals testified that Hribal’s untreated psychiatric disorders were to blame, saying he was obsessed with the 1999 Columbine school shooting in Colorado.
Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas and Marguerita Choy