MURRYSVILLE, Pa. -- Students at a vigil Wednesday for victims of a mass knifing at a Pennsylvania high school grappled with how their quiet and smart classmate could allegedly stab and slash 22 people.
Police said 16-year-old Alex Hribal, a sophomore at Franklin Regional High School, brandished two kitchen knives to wound 21 students and a security guard before the first class Wednesday morning.
Classmates in Murrysville who knew Hribal said they were shocked. They said they hadn't seen other kids pick on him and at least one victim was Hribal's friend.
"One of the kids he stabbed was a good friend of his," an 11th grader whose first name is Santino told HuffPost. "He didn't have a lot of friends, but he was not bullied."
Other students said two victims were good friends with Hribal.
(The Huffington Post isn't using the last names of underage students who were interviewed.)
No one was killed, but two victims were in critical condition on Wednesday evening. Hribal was charged with attempted murder as an adult.
"From what I saw, he was not bullied," Jake, Hribal's lab partner in biology, said outside Mother of Sorrows Parish. "He talked to me and a couple other people, but he was really quiet around other people. He's really smart."
The students were part of a crowd of several hundred that turned out for a standing-room only ceremony at the Roman Catholic church. Vigils were scheduled for five other churches in the town of approximately 20,000 near Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
Inside Mother of Sorrows, the Rev. William Lechnar tried to soothe the audience.
"It is difficult to put into words the emotions that have surfaced by what is both tragic and painful," Lechnar said, according to a copy of his remarks provided to the press. "This evening we gather asking for God's grace to help us all in a time of sadness."
Hribal came from a "nice family," according to another student who plays hockey with his older brother.
"He's a nice kid from a nice family," said Owen, an 11th grader. "We're not really sure what came up -- why he did this."
The rampage ended when an assistant principal tackled Hribal about five minutes after he allegedly started cutting students in the school's hallway.
Witnesses described pandemonium in the crowded corridors.
"All I saw was four underclassman running, screaming toward the nurses office," said Shannon, a senior. "One of them screamed, 'He has a knife' and then I saw about 150 kids running towards me in a mass panic. We finally evacuated to the football field."
The Associated Press reported that 1,200 students attend Franklin Regional High School.
"I saw kids running out with blood running down their sleeves and arms," said Alex, an 11th grader. "There were a lot of kids covered in blood."
David Lohr reported from Murrysville, Pa., and Michael McLaughlin reported from San Francisco.