BENTON, Ky. — Brian and Teresa Cope dropped everything and dashed to Marshall County High to get their boy when they heard about this week’s school shooting.
They arrived just in time to say goodbye to their son Preston, 15, who was gravely wounded in Tuesday’s shooting at the Benton, Kentucky, school.
“There’s so many obstacles that could have prevented me from getting there,” Brian Cope told The Louisville Courier-Journal.
“I could’ve been in a wreck. I could’ve had a flat tire, anything. But I’m firm in my faith that God guided us safely through all of that to get us there, so we could speak to our baby and just let him know we loved him.”
A shooter killed Preston Ryan Cope and Bailey Nicole Holt, also 15, and wounded others.
The suspect — who hasn’t been identified because he is a juvenile — was charged with two counts of murder and 12 counts of first-degree assault, said Marshall County Assistant Attorney Jason Darnall.
Brian Cope knew it was bad when he spotted Preston’s socks in an ambulance as he and his wife, Teresa, reached the chaotic scene at the school, he told the Courier-Journal.
They arrived not long before Preston, sprawled on a stretcher with a head wound, was pronounced dead en route to a Nashville hospital, the newspaper said.
“Just senseless. it was just senseless,” Brian Cope told the Courier-Journal.
In an interview with his family at his side, Cope described how Preston and his younger brother, Maddox, 11, enjoyed shooting hoops, playing baseball and spending time in the woods.
“They loved being outside and active,” he said. “That’s all you can ask for as a dad.”
The parents said the boys were close and did a lot together.
“This boy here looked up to Preston, his hero, his idol,” Cope said about Maddox. “He looked up to him so much.”
The family told the paper it’s been deeply touched at the outpouring of sympathy. They are thankful for the prayers and “just can’t express enough,” Cope said, for all everybody has done.
“God is lifting us and giving us this strength,” Cope said.
The Copes expressed concern for the survivors and the witnesses to the school tragedy.
Teresa Cope urged people to “pray for these kids that witnessed this, and their strength, what they endured that day. Enable them to live and go on through this.”
Her husband implored people there that day not to live with any guilt. “It’s not your fault,” he told the Courier-Journal.
“He was such a good son. I know he’s in a better place than we are and we will all see him again.”