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Wednesday marks 30 years since East Carter High School shooting in Grayson, Kentucky

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Posted at 4:25 PM, Jan 18, 2023

GRAYSON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's been 30 years since one of the first school shootings in small-town America, and it happened in eastern Kentucky.

Wednesday marks 30 years since Nathan Thompson's life changed forever.

"The person I was when I walked into that classroom ceased to exist," Thompson said. "In 1993, in Grayson, Kentucky, you were not expecting to be sitting in your English class and have somebody walk in and shoot at your English teacher and then hold you hostage."

Just 17 years old at the time, Thompson and his 21 classmates watched in horror as another student, Scott Pennington, walked into the room and shot and killed their English teacher, Deanna McDavid. Pennington then shot and killed Marvin Hicks, the janitor who rushed in to help.

"I don't know of a more shocking thing to have your safety and security ripped away from you," said Thompson.

Pennington held Thompson and the other students hostage for 15 to 20 minutes until they were released.

Physically, they were fine. But Thompson says Pennington's actions that day left mental scars no headline can fully portray.

"The lives that were impacted that day, the multitude of lives that will never ever be the same because of the selfish act of this one person," he said.

Thompson now lives in Lexington with his family, and he sees a therapist to help cope with the trauma of January 18th, 1993.

"It's not just a new story, a news headline," he said. "It wasn't just about the killing of two people. A school shooting is not just about a gunman showing up, it's about the devastation they leave in their wake."

He says he's thinking of Mrs. McDavid and Mr. Hicks, his classmates, and the shooting's ripple effects that go far beyond Grayson, Kentucky.

The gunman that day was reportedly upset with a grade that Mrs. McDavid had given him. Pennington is still in prison and is serving a life sentence at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex.