Little information is known about whether 16-year-old Alex Hribal, who has been charged with stabbing more than 20 people at Franklin Regional High School near Pittsburgh, targeted specific students in the attack because Hribal isn’t talking much to the police, is undergoing mental evaluations and his attorney has “lawyered him up,” according to the Associated Press on April 11.
Authorities have learned that the 8-inch long knives Hribal used in the April 9th attack on his fellow students were kitchen knives taken from his home. Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld stated on Friday that Hribal “wanted someone to kill him” in the wake of the violence.
Seefeld told CNN that his department is researching the possibility that a phone threat was made the night prior to the attacks, although evidence has yet to be produced that an actual phone call foreshadowing the event was ever made.
Although there have been conflicting reports from some students who dub Hribal as a shy loner, others say he was quiet and smart, but nothing like the image of the knife-crazed attacker running rampant that he became during the assaults. No doubt, all agree that something deeply rooted and troubling within the teen is at the root of these attacks as the FBI seeks out clues via the seizure of Hribal’s cell phone and computer.
Dealing with anger overload in teenagers
Although school officials say the education location is no longer being treated as a crime scene and will most likely reopen on Monday, questions about the reasons why Hribal wielded knives to harm people remain.
Attorney Patrick Thomassey called Hribal an B or B-plus student, stating that the 16-year-old was like a deer in headlights after his rampage, and said he was mentally unstable, potentially preparing for an insanity defense. Thomassey said of Hribal’s family life, "Both parents are good parents. They're parents who pay attention to their kids, who eat dinner with their kids every day, who understand their kids' friends, who, you know, care about who they hang out with.”
Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, says it is often those unassuming children and young adults who fly under the radar that are the ones who commit unexpected actions like these, not the loud and brash class clowns that everyone tends to know.
Dr. Tali Shenfield, an expert in the field of school and child clinical psychology, surmised that stabbings can be the reaction to an overabundance of pent-up rage. “Anger overload is much more than simply anger. One possible cause of anger overload is a feeling of helplessness or inadequacy in the face of overwhelming power,” Shenfield noted.
As eight of the victims remain in the hospital, with four of them in critical condition, the 1,200-student school will wait for more answers to unfold as details emerge about Hribal’s home life and state of mind leading up to the attacks. In the meantime, Hribal’s lawyer hasn’t issued any further statements, except to relate the knowledge that the boy’s family is just as “puzzled” as the authorities as to why such a horrific act of violence occurred.