Franklin Regional attacker Alex Hribal claims bullying, gets up to 60 years in prison
Editor's note: This is an updated version of the story.
Alex Hribal will be eligible for parole before his 40th birthday under a sentence imposed Monday for attempting to kill 20 students and one security guard at Franklin Regional High School nearly four years ago.
Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani imposed a sentence of 23 1⁄2 to 60 years in prison for Hribal, and in doing so dismissed allegations from the defense that bullying from other students led to the teen's actions on April 9, 2014.
"Although some have alluded to your actions as being caused by bullying, the facts do not support that," Feliciani said.
Hribal told the judge during a brief statement that he was bullied by fellow students and that he regretted trying to deal with his mental health issues himself rather than seek help.
"You can do anything at Franklin Regional. If you get beat up at Franklin Regional, it's not a problem," said Hribal, who was 16 when he plotted and carrying out the attack.
Hribal made a plea for the end of bullying.
"I want people to not make the same mistakes I did," he said Monday.
Hribal implored people with mental illness to seek treatment.
"My biggest mistake was falsely believing that if I took revenge ... I would be happy," he said.
Alex Hribal made a brief statement to the court and asked for the end of bullying. He is handcuffed and shackled, wearing a blue jail uniform, a gold chain with a cross dangling on it. He carried a piece of paper to the witness stand and read from it.— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
"Treating each other the way people would like to be treated is the solution. ... There's no words I can use; nothing I can say to make it all better. Nothing I can say to fix it."— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
Victims and family members also testified at the hearing in Greensburg.
"I'm sorry, Alex," Tina Hribal, the defendant's mother, testified through tears. "You just couldn't deal with the illness, I'm sorry."
Tina Hribal and her husband, Harold, blamed mental illness their son's actions on April 9, 2014, at the Murrysville school.
Alex Hribal, now 20, pleaded guilty last year to 43 counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault for attacking 20 classmates and a security guard with kitchen knives brought from home.
Judge Christopher Feliciani on Monday ordered Hribal to serve up to 60 years in prison for the attack.
The Hribals told the judge their son was the victim of prolonged bullying that triggered suicidal behavior that showed itself that day.
"I'm sorry that happened and I wish, I really wish I could change the past. Alex was my responsibility," Tina Hribal testified on her son's behalf.
Harold Hribal said he and his wife worried for their son's safety when they heard news of the rampage. They tried to call him as well as placed calls to friends and neighbors. Later, they learned their son was in police custody and could be the attacker.
His wife screamed, "'Alex did it,'" Harold Hribal testified. "We looked in the sink, we looked in the dishwasher ... there were two knives missing."
Mental illness and bullying caused a "downward spiral from which Alex could not escape," Harold testified. "Alex wasn't the problem, Alex was the result of the problem."— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
"The goal that day wasn't to hurt anybody else, it was to kill himself," Harold testified. Defense presented three witnesses. Court now in recess and attorneys are meeting with the judge.— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
One of the victim, 19-year-old Kolden Cook, testified he was stabbed once in the back.
Kaitlyn Shaw, who wasn't injured in the attack, described watching her classmates fall into pools of blood.
"I felt so guilty that I saw so many friends when I couldn't even help myself," Shaw testified.
Two siblings and the father of Jared Boger, who suffered critical stab wounds to the chest, testified about his ongoing pain and scars from the attack.
Carter Boger, 18, was a middle school student who had just been dropped off for school when word of the attack surfaced. He said he and his mother rushed to the high school to learn his brother had been injured and being flown to a Pittsburgh hospital.
"I believe Hribal is the definition of pure evil. I would like you to see who Alex really is — a terrorist," said Carter Boger.
"It's been just very frustrating for myself. It feels like you've just been robbed of something that you can't get back."About Hribal: "does he feel a sense of righteousness or a sense of regret? ... if he feels the latter there might be some hope."— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
Prosecution called five witnesses including three members of the same family. Carter Boger, 18, and Travis Boger, 30, recalled the day their brother Jared was seriously injured at Franklin Regional.— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
Carter called Alex Hribal a "terrorist" and "despicable human." "He has not shown one thread of emotion in this courtroom."Travis said his brother will live with "monstrous" scar and memories. "Why should the person who did it to him get forgiven any sooner than that?"— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) January 22, 2018
Hribal was 16 at the time when police said he used two kitchen knives to stab and slash students and a security guard as he walked up and down the school hallways before the start of classes.
Feliciani rejected a defense attempt to have the case transferred to juvenile court. The judge also denied a request by Hribal's attorney to allow him to plead guilty but mentally ill, which would have allowed him to serve a portion of his sentence in a mental institution.
Police found a hand-written manifesto in Hribal's locker after the attack. In that document, Hribal talked about his dissatisfaction with school, problems with other students and a need to do harm. He also expressed praise for two teens who killed students during a 1999 shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado.