Oren Dorell, USA TODAY
URRYSVILLE, Pa. — The student charged in a bloody high school knife attack Wednesday is a small, slight teen who was teased at school, a classmate says.
Alex Hribal was so small and quiet "he was like a shadow in the hallways," said Kaitlyn Pepper, 16, who stood shivering after an outdoor candlelight vigil Wednesday evening at Calvary Lutheran Church, not far from Franklin Regional High School where they both attended.
Kaitlyn, a sophomore, had had one class with Hribal last year. She recalled that he was small for his age — "like a little boy," she said — and that he was teased.
"There are individuals who are going to be more resilient than others," he said. "This is the kind of large-scale event where so many kids were exposed. They saw it. They heard it. They had friends who were hurt. Early interventions and monitoring are really, really key and crucial."
"I'd witnessed people say things to him," she said. "I couldn't tell you who said. I didn't realize it was all that bad."
She didn't know what the teasing was about, but she described it as relentless at times.
"They just said things. They'd ride him and ride him, and today was the day that he snapped," she said.
Nikala Boyer, 14, said she barely missed becoming one of the victims as school started Wednesday morning. While Nikala put things in her locker, she said, a friend she had been talking with walked down the hall and was slashed in the neck by a boy running at her with a knife in each hand.
Nikala heard screaming and ran to hide in woods near the school. The girl she'd been talking to survived, with 17 stitches in her neck.