Survivors of ‘97 school shooting share relief after parole board decision
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Kentucky school shooter is set to stay in prison the rest of his life, and survivors are now sharing their relief after the parole board’s decision.
Michael Carneal, 39, had his final parole board hearing on Monday. During a meeting last week, he admitted that he still hears voices, like the ones that told him to steal a neighbor’s pistol and fire it into the crowded lobby of Heath High School in 1997.
While he did tell parole board members he would live at home and continue mental health treatments, the board denied parole in a 7-0 vote.
Carneal attended his hearing via Zoom from the Kentucky State Reformatory. He quickly left after hearing he would serve out his life sentence from prison, while victims’ families and some shooting survivors in attendance embraced each other.
“There are three girls that didn’t have a life. Everyone involved in this were dealing with the consequences of his actions with no parole for the rest of their lives,” shooting survivor Misty Jenkins Smith said.
Carneal killed three of his classmates, Jessica James, Kayce Steger and Nicole Hadley. Jenkins Smith has spent the past two decades sharing her story, after she was left paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair in the shooting. She finally feels like the community has gotten some sort of justice.
“Shootings are something we have seen, unfortunately, that have become common. That’s very scary, but I’m hoping this visual will show others, this is what violence can create. This is what a school shooting can do,” Jenkins Smith said.
McCracken County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jamie Mills says the decision wasn’t a shock to him. Last week, Carneal spoke at a parole board hearing and admitted he still hears voices, like the ones that told him to steal a neighbor’s pistol and fire it into the crowded lobby of his school.
“I think after he testified, most anybody would be skeptical about his remorse about what he did and also his plan going forward to try and be successful on parole,” Mills said.
Carneal will serve out his life sentence in prison.
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