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Franklin Regional stabbing victim sues Alex Hribal, his parents, others

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 12:21 p.m.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Alex Hribal is taken back to prison by county sheriffs on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, after being sentenced to up to 60 years in prison for attempting to kill 21 people at Franklin Regional High School in 2014.

Alex Hribal's parents and the Franklin Regional School District knew of his mental illness and violent tendencies before he went on a knife rampage at the high school in 2014, a former student claims in a lawsuit.

Gregory Keener, 19, of Murrysville filed a lawsuit Monday in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court against Hribal, his parents, Tina and Harold, the school district and the school's private security firm.

Keener was injured in the April 9, 2014, attack. His filing marks the first lawsuit in connection with the assault.

Hribal, 20, of Murrysville was sentenced Jan. 22 to serve 23 1/2 to 60 years in prison for trying to kill 20 students and a security guard during the morning knife rampage at the high school.

“At all relevant times, defendants Tina and Harold Hribal were aware of their son's intent to carry out this attack and were otherwise acutely aware of defendant Hribal's serious mental illnesses and propensity for violence prior to the attack. Despite this knowledge, defendants Tina and Harold Hribal failed to take action to prevent the attack or otherwise forewarn (the school district) or its students,” the 20-page lawsuit states.

Reached by telephone Tuesday at her home, Tina Hribal disputed the lawsuit's contention that either her husband or she had prior knowledge the attack would take place. Both parents testified during Hribal's sentencing hearing that they had no prior knowledge of the attack. Keener's lawyers allege negligence in the lawsuit.

Several students including Keener were severely injured, and others are still dealing with the emotional trauma from the violent incident, according to court testimony. “Similarly, at all relevant times prior to the incident, defendant (school district) was aware of defendant Hribal's serious mental illness and propensity for violence towards other students prior to the attack. Despite this knowledge, defendant (school district) failed to take any action to deter or prevent the attack,” the lawsuit states.

Claims in the lawsuit include negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit contends the security guard employed by Capital Asset Protection Inc., John Resetar, was 70 years old at the time, “unarmed” and not properly trained in the event of such emergencies.

Capital, only provided “merely an appearance of safety to students which amounted to only window dressing to placate students and parents alike,” according to the lawsuit.

Keener, who was 15 at the time of the assault, was the final student released from area hospitals after the mass stabbing. Keener underwent several surgeries at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville and was released 30 days after being admitted and then 9 days in step-down recovery, according to the lawsuit.

Neither Franklin Regional School District Solicitor Gary Matta nor officials at Capital Asset Protection Inc., headquartered in Robinson, immediately returned calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by Pittsburgh law firm Friday & Cox, claims Keener continues to suffer “great pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment, mental anguish and emotional and psychological trauma” as a result of the attack.

It contends Keener continues to expend large sums of money for continued medical treatment and care, medical supplies, rehabilitation and therapeutic treatment and medicines.

“(Keener) has suffered significant scarring. (Keener's) earning capacity has been reduced and may be permanently impaired, (and) he has an inability to enjoy various pleasures of life that were previously enjoyed,” the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit also discloses new details of the stabbing.

“On the aforementioned date and time, (Keener) was standing at his locker in the Science Wing hallway and was in the process of removing his sweatshirt. Through the head opening of his sweatshirt he saw defendant Hribal running directly toward him with (two) knives,” lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that Keener was “violently stabbed” in his mid-right abdomen with the knives by Hribal.

Keener was stabbed with such force that he violently fell to the ground before making his way into a nearby classroom where “he was lying in a storage closet where he continued to bleed from his abdomen as a result of the stab wound,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit reports Keener was “briefly attended” at the scene by ambulance personnel but “later left for 25 minutes” before being transported to the hospital.

Upon arrival, he underwent emergency surgery and had to be administered 40 to 50 units of blood.

Last month, Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani said he saw no reason to reduce the penalty imposed Jan. 22 on Hribal and rejected a defense motion seeking to reduce the length of his prison term. Hribal's attorney, Patrick Thomassey, this month asked the state's Superior Court to review the sentence.

Hribal pleaded guilty late last year to 43 counts, including 21 charges each of attempted murder and aggravated assault as well as one weapons offense for taking knives onto school property.

Hribal was 15 when, before the start of classes, he moved along a school hallway stabbing and slashing students with two kitchen knives he brought from his home, police said.

Hribal is serving his sentence at SCI-Camp Hill in Cumberland County.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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