Kentucky school shooting suspect has Golden Triangle ties

People attend a vigil for the victims of a fatal shooting at Marshall County High School on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, at Mike Miller County Park in Benton, Ky. The 15-year-old accused of the fatal shooting on Tuesday, which left over a dozen injured, was ordered held Thursday on preliminary charges of murder and assault. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)
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The 15-year-old suspect charged in a deadly school shooting that happened in Benton, Kentucky last week has been confirmed to have family ties to both Starkville and West Point.

The Louisville Courier Journal first reported on Saturday that the suspect had been identified by family and acquaintances as Gabe Parker, a student at Marshall County High School in Benton who is accused of killing two classmates and wounding more than a dozen others.

Parker’s mother - Mary Garrison Minyard - was employed in editor roles at the Starkville Daily News and Daily Times Leader from April 30, 2013 to Feb. 6, 2015.

The Courier Journal also reported Minyard is currently employed as the editor of the Marshall County Daily Online.

The report claims Minyard heard about emergency crews responding to a report of shots fired at the school the morning of Jan. 23. She arrived on the scene and discovered the suspect was her own son.

While several sources have said Parker previously attended Armstrong Middle School in Starkville, no confirmation had been made as of Monday afternoon as to where he attended and when.

Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Public Information Officer Nicole Thomas said the district could not confirm whether Parker had attended schools in the district, citing concerns with section 37-15-3 of the Mississippi Code and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Thomas cited the district’s attorney, saying information about some students could be released but only after notifying the student's parents, who the district could not reach.

"We believe we are precluded from giving out any information about a student without giving required notice to the parent," Thomas said.

At last count, the Associated Press reported 17 injuries and two fatalities in the shooting. The fatalities were identified as Bailey Nicole Holt, 15, and Preston Ryan Cope, 15.

Holt died at the scene and Cope died later after being flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

The AP also reported Parker was jailed on preliminary charges of murder and assault.

A juvenile court judge found probable cause to detain Parker as authorities gather evidence to support trying him as an adult.

Adults who spent any time with Parker in his pre-teen years remember him as "very intelligent but highly introverted."

According to current employees of the newspaper, Parker would come to the Daily Times Leader office in West Point occasionally with his mother, on holidays and during the summer and sit in her office.

"He seemed a little like a loner because you never heard him talk about his friends, but that wouldn't be all that unusual because he lived in Starkville," said DTL customer service representative and bookkeeper Cindy Cannon.

"He was very quiet, very well read. He loved books. He would come here and play video games ... in the office while Mary worked,” added DTL reporter Donna Summerall.

"He loved the robotics program he was in at Armstrong. That's one of the reasons his mother didn't move to West Point -- because she didn't want to take him out of that program," noted DTL advertising representative Donna Harris. "And he seemed to enjoy band.”

"You never heard him talk about guns or violence or anything like that. That wasn't in Mary's psyche. And she was very proud of him being in the band and his music," Summerall added, referring to Parker’s mother and his performances in the Armstrong Middle School band.

In one of his Instagram posts, the teen said "my tuba is my best friend,” which was a play off of the ‘Rifleman’s Creed’ from the United States Marine Corps, according to the post.

Like so many others, those who worked with his mother are filled with questions, everything from where did he get the gun and how long had he been contemplating it to what pushed him over the edge.

And they wish they could find words for their former co-worker.

"I think I would just give her a hug and hold her,” Harris said. “What else can you do? You just have to be there for her and for Justin (Parker’s step father) and for Gabe.”

- The SDN’s Charlie Benton contributed to this report from Starkville and the DTL’s Steve Rogers contributed from West Point.

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