Corbett: Dialogue needed on anger behind mass violence
SHAMOKIN DAM - Dialogue is needed to learn the roots of anger in perpetrators of mass violence, Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday.
His remarks were made one day after a 16-year-old student stabbed more than 20 people at a high school near Pittsburgh. Three victims remain hospitalized, Corbett said, calling it a "touch-and-go situation."
Alex Hribal, a sophomore, allegedly went room to room shortly after 7 a.m. with an 8- to 10-inch knife in each hand, slashing and stabbing victims.
The 21 student victims were 15 to 17 years old.
A security guard was also stabbed about five minutes into the incident while he assisted an assistant principal in subduing the suspect.
Corbett spoke with The News-Item outside the Susquehanna Valley Country Club prior to his appearance at the 2014 EconomicsPennsylvania Adam Smith Leadership Award Luncheon honoring John D. Moran Jr. of Moran Industries Inc. and several area high school students, including Selina Albert, of Coal Township.
'What caused this?'
He said Tuesday's incident at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Westmoreland County, raises two issues in attackers: the nature of violent outbursts and what can be done to treat existing mental health issues.
"What caused this to happen? What caused the anger? We see anger in this country and I think it's time for everyone to sit down and do an analysis of what precipitates this. It's hard to say. There's not one item that precipitates the anger," Corbett said.
He pointed to pending legislation sponsored by western Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy, whose Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act seeks to enact sweeping changes in the treatment of mental diseases. Among its provisions, it seeks to ease privacy restrictions to allow greater communication between a physician and a mental health patient's family, increase capacity for inpatient treatment and enhance outpatient treatment, and upgrade tele-psychiatry to connect health professionals when treating patients from rural areas.
The legislation was introduced in December, and a congressional subcommittee hearing was held April 3.
The governor said an "after action report" will be compiled on the attack and could yield some of those answers in this case.
Corbett canceled a scheduled trip to Lewisburg Tuesday and traveled to Murrysville, where he met with law enforcement and the school superintendent and staff, whom he especially commended for their actions in crisis.
One EMT who responded was a student at Franklin Regional who ran out of the school, retrieved his first-aid gear and returned to treat victims, Corbett said. Cafeteria workers, staff and other students were working to care for and console students.
Corbett hasn't yet met with any of the victims.
"They were all home; that's where they need to be. The families are with their children who are being treated and right now there won't be any meetings for a while. This is a time to heal," he said.
The 'great' students
Corbett directed media assembled in Murrysville on Tuesday to focus on the "heroes" rather than the alleged attacker. On Wednesday during the luncheon, he told the sold-out crowd that, in general, the accomplishments of the state's students must be recognized.
"These young people," Corbett said, referring to high school students in attendance who participate in the EconomicsPennsylvania Stock Market Game, some of whom were award recipients, "are a great example of the vast, vast, vast majority of students we have in Pennsylvania."