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East Carter High School shooting: Wikis


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The East Carter High School shooting occurred on January 18, 1993 at East Carter High School in Grayson, Kentucky, United States. The incident began when 17-year-old Scott Pennington walked into an English classroom and fatally shot his teacher Deanna McDavid. He also shot and killed custodian Marvin Hicks, then held the students in the classroom hostage for 15 minutes before surrendering to authorities.


The shooting

On Monday, January 18, 1993, Scott Pennington took a .38 caliber revolver that belonged to his father, and brought the weapon to school in his backpack. Most U.S. school districts were closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, although the Carter County Public Schools were still opened.

At approximately 2:45 p.m. he walked into his seventh-period English class and shot at his teacher Deanna McDavid. His first shot missed, with McDavid saying, "Scott, what the hell!", to which Pennington said, "shut up, bitch".[1] The second shot hit her in the forehead, which instantly killed her. Many students inside her class believed this was an act that McDavid arranged for her drama club.[1] The school custodian, Marvin Hicks, and social studies teacher Jack Calhoun walked inside the classroom to investigate the sounds. Pennington fatally shot Hicks in the abdomen, and aimed his pistol at Calhoun without shooting him.[2] Witnesses reported that Hicks pushed a female student away from himself before he was shot.[3] Mandy Morse, a student inside the classroom, had written a farewell letter to her family fearing she would be killed.[1] Some students said Pennington threatened to kill other students, while others recall him telling the class he will commit suicide.[1]

He then held his classmates hostage before he allowed two students to leave the classroom shortly after. He then allowed students to leave the room in groups of two every minute, and allowed the last five hostages to leave the classroom at 3:01 p.m. He himself walked outside of the classroom, where he surrendered to two police officers waiting in the hallway adjacent to the classroom.[1]


  • Deanna McDavid née Mullins was born in Olive Hill, Kentucky on January 19, 1944. She graduated from Olive Hill High School in 1962, and enrolled at Morehead State University where she was an English major for four years.[1] She worked as a high school teacher in Ohio for 14 years, before returning to Carter County in 1981. McDavid became a senior English teacher at East Carter High School, and was also director of the school drama club. She lived in Grayson, Kentucky with her husband Daniel, and their three children – son Brent, daughters Lisa and Angela.[1] Many of her students remember McDavid as a challenging, strict, and energetic teacher who demanded her students' best efforts while also protecting and supporting them, academically and personally.[1]
  • Marvin Hicks (born 1941) was born in Olive Hill, Kentucky and was an honor student at West Carter High School before dropping out. Hicks had worked as a custodian at East Carter High School since 1983,[3] nine years before the shooting, and lived in Olive Hill with his wife Margie Crank-Hicks.

Perpetrator and motives

The identity of the shooter was originally protected at the time of his arrest,[3] and was soon revealed to be 17-year-old Gary Scott Pennington. He had lived with his family in Elliott County, Kentucky his entire childhood, before moving to Carter County in August 1992. It was reported that Pennington had expressed frustration with moving to Carter County.[2] His family was living in poverty in the years and months prior to the shooting, as they could not afford plumbing and had little electricity. His father, Gary Pennington, was an unemployed former laborer who received monthly disability pensions.[1] His mother Esta was also unemployed.

Pennington had excelled academically since elementary school, participating in the academic team since the fifth grade and winning the Eastern Kentucky regional science competition in the seventh grade. He attended Elliott County High School for grades nine to eleven, where he taught himself calculus during his freshman year. After moving to Carter County, he joined the academic team at East Carter High School, however withdrew due to bullying by fellow students.[1] He also developed a grudge against his English teacher Mrs. McDavid after she gave him a 'C' as his midterm grade.[2] The midterm grade was for an essay Pennington had written about the Stephen King novel Rage; the content of the essay concerned McDavid, given that some of his other writing likewise focused on "violence, death, and dying" (McDavid even apparently brought her concerns before her colleagues).[1]

Afterward, he said he did not dislike Mrs. McDavid, but that his intention was to kill any two people in order to become eligible for the death penalty.[4]


A grand jury indicted Pennington on two counts of second-degree murder and 22 counts of kidnapping on June 15, 1993.[5] Due to the difficulty of seating an impartial jury, the trial venue was moved twice, first to Morgan County[6] and then to Johnson County.[7]

Opening arguments in his trial began on February 9, 1995. Pennington entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill, and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years on February 28, 1995.[8][9] He is currently imprisoned at the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, Kentucky.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Buckley, Jerry (1993-10-31). "The Tragedy in Room 108". U.S. News and World Report. 
  2. ^ a b c Reed, Susan (1993-06-14). "Reading, Writing and Murder". People.,,20110610,00.html. 
  3. ^ a b c "Two Killed in School Shooting in Kentucky". New York Times. 1993-01-19. 
  4. ^ Dedman, Bill (2000-10-15). "School shooters: Secret service findings". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  5. ^ "Teen indicted in shootings at Carter school". Lexington Herald-Leader: p. B1. 1993-06-16. 
  6. ^ "Pennington slaying trial is moved a 2nd time". Lexington Herald-Leader: p. A1. 1994-07-23. "A Morgan County circuit judge yesterday decided for the second time to move the capital murder trial of Scott Pennington because it had become almost impossible to seat an impartial jury... Moving the trial the 40 miles or so from Carter County to Morgan County was not far enough." 
  7. ^ "Johnson chosen as Pennington trial site". Lexington Herald-Leader: p. B3. 1994-08-12. 
  8. ^ "Pennington sentenced to life term". Lexington Herald-Leader: p. C1. 1995-04-08. 
  9. ^ School Shooting document


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