View Full Version : Does anyone remember this incident?

07-18-2004, 10:29 PM
I was wondering if anyone here remembers the Clay Shrout incident in Union Kentucky at Ryle High School back in 1994. I attended that school when this happened and it was a very scary thing to go through. I often find myself replaying the events of that day and wondering how he feels about it now. I had an ex boyfriend that was best friends with him and I can still hear the screams and crying in the hallway when he found out what happened. Just felt like a nightmare when I was sitting in class watching CNN on T.V. broadcasting in front of our school.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Act of heroism resonates


By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Stephen Sorrell, principal of the R.A. Jones Middle School in Florence, KY talks with some of the 8th grade during lunch.
(Photos by Tony Jones/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)

Stephen Sorrell, principal of the R.A. Jones Middle School in Florence, KY talks with, from left, Josh Orr, 13, Michael Cox, 15 and Travis Schrode, 14.

FLORENCE - As principal Stephen Sorrell sits at his desk at R.A. Jones Middle School, the chatter on his two-way radio warns of an overflowing toilet in an upstairs boys' bathroom.

It's a blissfully quiet day compared with the one 10 years ago Wednesday, when 17-year-old junior Clay Shrout held his Ryle High School trigonometry class hostage at gunpoint after killing four members of his family hours earlier at their Florence home.

Sorrell's actions that day, and those of trigonometry teacher Carol Kanabroski, helped save the lives of 23 students in that classroom and prevent what could have been a massacre. Both were honored for their actions.

Five years later, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., the nation's deadliest school shooting claimed the lives of 14 students and one teacher. Unlike Columbine, no one died at Ryle. Like Columbine, lives were changed forever.

"I know, from May 26, 10 years ago, I'm living on God's time," the 51-year-old Sorrell said. "There was a certain possibility I might not have walked out of that room."

Shrout's actions seemed like an isolated incident to Northern Kentucky educators at the time. But when linked to the chain of events that materialized later - deadly school shootings at West Paducah, Ky., in 1997 and Columbine in 1999 - educators rushed to tighten security and develop elaborate crisis plans.

More than anything, the Shrout incident was a wake-up call.

"It gave you a sense of awareness that these aren't things that just happen somewhere else far away," said Robert Storer, superintendent of neighboring Walton-Verona Independent Schools.

"It can happen in your own back yard."

Sorrell, in his first year as vice principal at Ryle, had taught Algebra III to Shrout the previous year. Shrout was among a group of five students who came to Sorrell's classroom to play computer games between classes.

Here's a sample of school shootings and episodes of violence in the nation's schools since 1989:

Jan. 17, 1989 - Stockton, Calif. Five children were shot to death and 30 were wounded at Cleveland Elementary School by Patrick Edward Purdy, a former student and drifter who then killed himself.

May 26, 1994 - Union, Ky. Clay Shrout, 17-year-old high school senior, killed his parents and two sisters, then briefly took 23 students and a teacher hostage at Ryle High School.

Dec. 1, 1997 - West Paducah, Ky. Three students were killed and five wounded by Michael Carneal, 14, as they participated in a prayer circle at Heath High School.

March 24, 1998 - Jonesboro, Ark. Four students and one teacher were killed, and 10 others wounded as Westside Middle School emptied during a false fire alarm. Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, shot at their classmates and teacher from nearby woods.

May 21, 1998 - Springfield, Ore. Two students were killed and 22 others wounded in the Thurston High School cafeteria by 15-year-old Kip Kinkel. Earlier, he had shot his parents to death at home.

April 20, 1999 - Littleton, Colo. Twelve students and one teacher were killed, and 23 others were wounded at Columbine High School. Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, then killed themselves, bringing the death toll to 15.

March 5, 2001 - Santee, Calif. Student Charles "Andy" Andrew Williams shot two students to death at Santana High School, then wounded 11 other students, a student teacher and campus security worker.

Sources: School Violence Chronology and The National School Safety Center's Report on School Associated Violent Deaths

Sorrell said Shrout was a quiet student and had a high IQ (160, according to some news reports), but his grades were inconsistent.

Shortly after Shrout made hostages of Kanabroski and 23 students - including his prom date from another school - someone knocked on the door.

It was Perrin Monhollen, a student in another of Kanabroski's classes. She was asking her teachers to sign a note for grade verification for the school's academic awards night. Kanabroski mouthed to Monhollen that Shrout had a gun.

"My office was three doors up from the room, so I was the closest administrator that the young lady went to," Sorrell said. "There was some serendipity in the fact I had already gotten to know Clay."

Sorrell called the room and asked Kanabroski a series of yes or no questions to confirm it was a gun and that it was Shrout. Sorrell instructed her to send a student out of the room in a couple of minutes, which the school did for normal discipline procedures.

As the student left, Sorrell motioned Kanabroski out. He walked toward Shrout, who was sitting at the teacher's desk, his hands in his lap with a gun in his right hand. Shrout warned Sorrell that he should be careful.

"They're leaving now, aren't they?" Sorrell asked Shrout while motioning students out of the room.

Most students remained calm, Sorrell recalled. Kanabroski "had kept such control. (Shrout) told her to keep working. That was how they were protecting themselves. It gave Mrs. Kanabroski the opportunity to move around the room and give support to the kids."

The ordeal lasted 17 minutes, from 8:35 a.m.,the time Shrout took the class hostage, until he gave up the gun at 8:52 a.m.

After the students and Kanabroski left the room, Shrout warned Sorrell not to get too close, so the vice principal sat on the edge of a filing cabinet.

Sorrell recalled a fairly calm conversation with Shrout, who was agitated and nervous, pulling the hammer on the .380-caliber pistol and releasing it back.

"He said he had had a bad day," Sorrell said.

He went over the scenarios with Shrout. Shrout would be shot. Or Sorrell would be shot. Or, Sorrell offered, they could both walk out alive.

"I told him which one I preferred," Sorrell said.

He said he relied on Shrout's intelligence to realize the best scenario and, as police watched outside the door, Sorrell reached down and took the gun without resistance.

"If anybody was going to be hurt, it was going to be him or me," Sorrell said. "I wasn't going to allow him the opportunity to hurt anyone else. If that included a bum's rush, I'd do that. Thank goodness, I didn't have to."

Sorrell doesn't recall fearing for his own life. The emotions were unleashed later and linger today.

Twice after the incident, he broke down.

After studying characteristics of youngsters who have caused school-associated violent deaths, the National School Safety Center, has identified the following behaviors that could indicate a youth's potential for harming him/herself or others:

A history of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts.

Habitually makes violent threats when angry.

Has previously brought a weapon to school.

Background of serious disciplinary problems at school and in the community.

Background of drug, alcohol or other substance abuse or dependency.

Is on the fringe of his/her peer group with few or no close friends.

Is preoccupied with weapons, explosives or other incendiary devices.

Has been truant, suspended or expelled from school.

Displays cruelty to animals.

Has little or no supervision and support from parents or a caring adult.

Has witnessed or been a victim of abuse or neglect in the home.

Has been bullied and/or bullies or intimidates peers or younger children.

Tends to blame others for difficulties and problems she/he causes her/himself.

Consistently prefers TV shows, movies or music expressing violent themes and acts.

Prefers reading materials dealing with violent themes, rituals and abuse.

Reflects anger, frustration and the dark side of life in school essays or writing projects.

Is involved with a gang or an antisocial group on the fringe of peer acceptance.

Is often depressed and/or has significant mood swings.

Has threatened or attempted suicide.

The first was shortly after Shrout gave up the gun. Ryle Principal Randy Cooper offered a shaking Sorrell an office where he could be alone.

The second occurred three days later.

"The following Sunday in church, I got to the point I couldn't even hold my hymnal," Sorrell said. "That's the point it really hit me, and I realized how blessed I was. I started shaking. I had to sit down."

When counselors were brought in the day after the incident for Ryle students, Sorrell spent a few minutes with them, sorting out his own experience. He met with Kentucky Post-Trauma Response Teams.

For nearly a year after the incident, he suffered nightmares and cold sweats. About two years later, other emotions rose to the surface.

"I realize I do have some (post-traumatic stress disorder). I have a much quicker temper than I had before. The other side of that is, I'm much quicker to go to tears. The anger and tears are so close to the surface. Before, I kept them pretty well hidden."

In addition to feeling closer to God, the incident has brought other silver linings.

"It solidified my confidence in my abilities as an administrator. It opened a couple of doors for me in my career. The fact that it makes me more sensitive to kids is important, too."

Has he ever looked for another Clay Shrout at his schools?

"There are times," he said. "I'm sensitive to school culture. We put a lot of pressure on kids to perform. We need to be aware of the pressure and how it affects them."

Kanabroski, 54, still teaches trigonometry and AP calculus in Room 203.

"I was given the option to change, but I saw no reason to," she said.

She said she didn't realize it was the 10th anniversary until a reporter contacted her.

She, too, received counseling after the incident, but then relied on support from her family, friends and co-workers.

"I have terrific people around me - my husband, my two children, my friends at school, the administration," she said. "My life has gone on. I've got two grandchildren. That's really the center of my life. As far as I'm concerned, they never need to hear the story."

In retrospect, Sorrell never saw Shrout's rampage coming.

While the youth often dressed in black, Sorrell said, that alone doesn't make a person dangerous. When he later read witness statements and Shrout's disturbing writings stored in police evidence boxes, everything began to fit together.

Different people knew different things about Shrout - his friends, his teachers, his family. All held a piece of the puzzle, Sorrell said.

"If we could have put them all together, we could have seen the total picture. We might have been able to stop it."

After he left Ryle in 1997, Sorrell went to Campbell County High School, where he was principal for four years. He then went to North College Hill High School, where he was principal two years, before returning to work in his home Boone County.

Ironically, when he interviewed for the vice principal's job at Ryle, he had been asked how he would react in a hostage situation.

No one has asked that question since.

Sorrell thinks it's important not to forget what Clay Shrout did.

"We need to remember, not because it's a terrible tragedy and we're interested in the gory details. We need to remember this could still happen, and we need to make sure we do the right things to keep it from happening again. Unfortunately, Ryle was not the first, nor the last."


07-31-2004, 07:14 AM
I don't remember it, but it sounds like a real tragedy. Too many are getting killed at our schools. Just have to hope and pray that the killing stops.
Remember Hope is a good thing, it springs life eternal.

12-15-2009, 11:55 AM
I do remember this. I was there when it happened. Not in the class that he took but at the school. He was even in one of my classes and friends with some of my friends. It was a very scary day... for everyone.

12-23-2009, 08:23 AM
Shrout was a true pioneer. In the ensuing years the prototype of the black trenchcoated whack killer would emerge again and again in the american and world scene. This phenomenom still has not abated.

Clay Shrout, 17, murdered his parents and two sisters,
He wore all black every day with combat boots and black trenchcoat.

Barry Loukaitis, 14. Frontier Jr. High School, Moses Lake, Washington. Dressed in all black, trenchcoat, 3 dead, 1 wounded.

Black trenchcoat wearing Rod Ferrell, 18, and others are arrested for beating to death a Florida couple.

"Kentucky Occult Teen Killers" six black trenchcoat- wearing young people plead guilty to killing a couple and their daughter.

Killings at Columbine High School planned and executed by the black trenchcoat-wearing 'Trenchcoat Mafia'

3 teens arrested for planned attack on their high school in Hoyt, Kansas. Each possessed a black trenchcoat.

October, 2001
Five teens from New Bedford, Massachusetts are arrested for planning an attack on New Bedford High School. They wore long black trenchcoats.

Four young people are arrested in Loudown County, Virginia for the stabbing/slashing death of one of their fathers. "The suspects favored all-black outfits, long black (trench)coats."

Daniel Hawke Fears, 18, Sallisaw, Okla. (2 dead, 7 wounded) He went on a 20-mile shooting spree, apparently targeting people at random. "He... always wore a black trench coat."

Oakton, Virginia 19-year-old Josh Cooke mowed down his parents in the basement of their home with a shotgun. Cooke wore a black trench coat ....

Joseph Hunter Parker, 30, killed two people with a samurai sword at an Albertson's supermarket in Irvine, California(Orange County). He was wearing a black trenchcoat and green beret when he was shot to death by police minutes later.

Oaklyn Public School, Camden, NJ
Matthew Lovett, 18, and two boys, ages 15 and 14; wearing black trenchcoats, arrested after they attempted to carjack vehicle; on their way to attack school with numerous weapons.

Josh Magee, Malcolm High School, Malcolm, Nebraska
Arrested after pipe bombs and a rifle were found in his car outside school as he contemplated attacking: "Magee was dressed in camouflaged pants and a black trench coat...."

Jeff Weise, 17, wearing black trenchcoat, shoots seven at Red Lake HS, MN.

Lafayette, CA Goth killer Scott Dyleski, 18. Convicted of murdering his neighbor, the wife of noted "CourtTV" commentator Daniel Horowitz. Wore a black trenchcoat.

Tacoma, WA Mall Shooter Dominick Sergio Maldonado, 20, of Tacoma, 6 wounded(1 critical)
Wearing long black trenchcoat when he began his rampage.

Black trenchcoat-wearing Jacob D. Robida, 18, New Bedford, Massachusetts gay bar slasher/shooter.

Kyle Huff, 28, Seattle rave slayer, 7 dead, owned a black trenchcoat, attacked a party of goth ravers.

Hans Van Themsche, 18, wearing a black trenchcoat, shot 3 people on an Antwerp street.

Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 19, Orange High School, Hillsborough NC 1 lightly wounded, suspect's dad dead at home. Wore a black trenchcoat in the attack.

Kimveer Gill, 25, Dawson Junior College, Montreal, Cananda 3 dead, 18 wounded. Wore a black trenchcoat in the attack.

Memorial Middle School, Joplin, MO Thomas White, 13, fired a round from an assualt rifle after walking into his school wearing a long, dark green trenchcoat.

ex-student Sebastain Bosse, 18, Geschwister Scholl School, Emdetten, Germany (1 dead, 5 wounded) Wore a black trenchcoat in the attack.

John "Jack" Odgren, 16, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Framingham/Sudbury, Massachusetts
Stabbed a 15year old boy to death in the school bathroom. "Two juniors yesterday said the student now accused of the killing often wore a trench coat to school."

Sulejman Talovic, 18 SLC, Utah, Trolley Square massacre shooter. Used a shotgun to kill six and wound four more. Wore a dark trenchcoat during the attack.

Asa Coon, 14, Success Tech HS, Cleveland, OH 1 dead, 4 wounded
A goth, he often wore trenchcoat to school.

Matthew Murray, 18, kills 4, injures many others in two locations. Was wearing a black trenchcoat at the New Life Church attack in Colorado Springs, according to some media accounts.

Stephen Kazmierczak, 27 Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Ill., 6 dead
Some accounts had him wearing a black trenchcoat.

Fabeltjesland nursery/day care stabbings, Belgium, Kim de Gelder, 20
De Gelder was known for wearing a long dark coat.

OAED Vocational College, Athens, Greece, Dimitris Patmanidis, 19 1 dead, 3 wounded
Fellow students and college staff described the gunman as a loner who favored black clothing and long overcoats

Overton(Miami) house party shooting
Three men wound 12 in sudden attack at a late night birthday party, using semi-automatic rifle and two pistols. Witnesses say a man wearing a black trench coat stormed the gathering and opened fire with an automatic weapon.

Georg R., 18, a student at Carolinum-Gymnasium in Ansbach in Bavaria, Germany, attacked his school with an ax, knives, and molotov cocktails. Georg R. wore a black trenchcoat everyday to school and also yesterday on the day of the attack.

15yr old arrested for planning attack on Monroe Woodbury High School, Monroe, NY. He was planning an attack on April 20. He had purchased a black trench coat to resemble that worn in the Columbine High School attack.

08-17-2010, 12:00 AM
I was only 6 years old when it happened. I lived in the same neighborhood and still do. I am reminded of him and what he did every time I drive pass his old home. I remember seeing news vans there when I was on my way to school that day. I remember them tearing out the bloody carpet 3 days later.