Kentucky Youth Agrees to Plea Deal for Campus Shooting, Deaths

The suspect in a 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School has pleaded guilty to murder.

Gabe Parker, now 18, has accepted a plea deal stemming from the deaths of two Marshall County High School students in 2018. He will plead guilty to two counts of murder, and more lenient assault charges. Parker was 15 years old when open fire in a common area of the school, killing Preston Cope and Bailey Holt, both 15.

Parker brought his stepfather’s Ruger MK 11 .22-caliber pistol to school, committing the shooting, which also injured several other students. A sentencing hearing will be held June 12, and if the court agrees to the plea deal, he will be sentenced for two counts of first-degree murder, eight counts of first-degree assault and six counts of second-degree assault.

Marshall County Circuit Judge James Jameson will have to approve of the deal. If approved, Parker will be sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole at age 35.

Defense attorney Tom Griffiths said the plea deal will allow Parker to “start the next phase of his life where he’s going to have to earn any chance to ever be on the outside of a prison again,” according to The Courier Journal.

"Gabe has a lot to atone for," defense attorney Tom Griffiths told The Courier Journal. "This plea allows him to start the next phase in his life where he's going to have to earn any chance to ever be on the outside of a prison ever again.”

The Courier Journal also reported that Marshall County Commonwealth’s attorney Dennis Foust said the families of the murdered victims felt the plea was the right way to go, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have delayed the trial by as much as a year. The families were ready for closure and the opportunity to begin healing. Faust had refused any deals in the past.

Mary Garrison Minyard, Parker’s mother, sobbed throughout the court proceeding, saying in the statement, “To every child in the school that day, to every parent and loved one of those children; to the school system and entire community, I’m so sorry.”

Griffiths said his client has never denied the shooting and has been ready to enter a guilty plea for a while. He said prolonging the case would have served nothing, especially if the ongoing pandemic would have forced the trial to be continued this year, or even into 2021.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.


  • Campus Parking Problems: Modern Security Solutions

    Parking: for many, it’s an everyday fact of life. Whenever we drive somewhere, we must consider parking, and often, that parking experience sets our mood and expectations for the rest of the journey. Whether a quick grocery store pickup or long-term airport parking, the parking lot is an integral part of whatever type of campus you’re visiting. This includes destinations like retail stores, your local high school, hospitals, and the park-and-ride systems present in major cities. Read Now

  • The Critical Need for Naloxone on School Campuses

    The opioid crisis is escalating across the United States, increasingly affecting all segments of the population, including students on K-12 and college campuses. As the threat from opioids, especially fentanyl, becomes more widespread, it's critical for schools to have naloxone available—an antidote for opioid overdoses. This article discusses why naloxone should be as common as Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in educational settings. Read Now

  • Best Practices for A Holistic Approach to Video Solutions in Campus Security

    Video surveillance is one of the most common security measures implemented by educational institutions today, but installing cameras is just the beginning. Adopting a holistic, comprehensive approach to video surveillance is a more effective way to safeguard campus communities and fully realize the value of your investment in physical security systems. Read Now

  • Back to School Planning is a Year-Round Commitment

    With summer underway, K-12 and college students, faculty, and staff are taking a well-earned break to recharge and gear up for the fall. It’s also the season when security professionals can get in and get busy installing upgrades and retrofits before the new school year starts. It’s a brief window, but, thanks to diligent planning throughout the year, the pros are always ready to hit the ground running at the last bell of spring term to make the most out of the limited time available. Read Now