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“Voices, chaos in the background”: mom recalls Kentucky school shooting victim’s last phone call

Fifteen-year-old Bailey Holt was one of two students shot and killed by a classmate at Marshall County High School.

Bailey Holt, a 15-year-old killed in the Marshall County High School shooting in Kentucky.
Bailey Holt, a 15-year-old killed in the Marshall County High School shooting in Kentucky.
Holt family via WKRN

Fifteen-year-old Bailey Holt tried to reach her mother by phone on Tuesday — as a gunman in her school in Marshall County, Kentucky, opened fire. But her mom never heard from her.

“She called me, and all I could hear was voices, chaos in the background,” the mother, Secret Holt, told a local CBS affiliate. “She couldn’t say anything, and I tried to call her name over and over and over — and she never responded.”

Bailey’s mom found out her daughter had died soon after, when she did not get off buses used to transport students to another school. “We waited and waited for her to get off the buses and she never did. The principal at North Marshall came and got me, and took us outside, and we got in a cop car, and they took us to the fire department and told us what had happened,” Secret said.

Bailey was the only victim to die at the scene of the shooting. A 15-year-old boy, Preston Cope, later died at a hospital. Eighteen others were injured, including Bailey’s boyfriend. The gunman’s identity has not yet been released because he is a juvenile.

“Even though [Bailey] was 15, she had already decided her career was going to be a labor and delivery nurse,” Secret said. “She helped others. … She was just so kindhearted and the most amazing kid anybody could ever ask for. Her smile could light up the room.”

On the person who killed her daughter, Secret said, “It’s just so hard to believe that somebody in a split second could take two lives and injure so many in just a short amount of time. I don’t know if I can go to court and see him. I just don’t know if I can, but I want him to pay for everything he’s done. I also want to pray for him, too, because I know he’s probably having a hard time too, but he took our baby. He still took my baby from me.”

The shooting was at least the 10th school shooting so far in 2018, according to data from Everytown for Gun Safety. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, there have been at least at least 1,592 mass shootings in the US, with at least 1,801 people killed and 6,404 wounded.

Based on the research, a major cause of all this bloodshed is America’s abundance of guns. The research consistently shows that where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths. The US, for one, has the most civilian-owned guns out of any country in the world — and as a result, it has the highest death toll from guns out of any wealthy nation.

Tighter restrictions on firearms could help. In 2016, researchers reviewed more than 130 studies from 10 countries on gun control for Epidemiologic Reviews. The findings were clear: “The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths.”

But America simply has not been able to seriously confront its gun problem, even as these massacres keep happening. For more on why, read Vox’s explainer.

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