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Police enter prison in Brazil

Military police entered a prison in northeastern Brazil on Saturday, establishing tenuous control after a week of chaos and fighting between rival gangs that left 26 inmates dead.

The unrest was the latest in a spate of violence in the country's penitentiaries, in which at least 126 people have been killed since the beginning of the year. The fighting is typically between members of rival gangs that compete for control of drug trafficking routes outside prison walls.

A week after inmates first rioted at Alcacuz prison, riot police and other forces moved into the complex outside the city of Natal on Saturday. As a helicopter flew overhead, an armoured vehicle also entered the complex and later construction equipment was brought in. Authorities would not say how many officers entered the complex, but an Associated Press reporter saw about 40 go in.

A few hours after the operation began, Maj. Eduardo Franco, a military police spokesman, said the complex was again under police control.

But Col. Andre Azevedo, general commander of the Military Police in Rio Grande do Norte state, painted a bleak picture of the situation inside, saying that the entire system had broken down and maintaining control would be an ongoing battle. Many of the inmates are armed.

"Every time the police enter... they take away weapons that they find, but this is not enough to guarantee that tomorrow there won't be weapons," he told reporters late Saturday. In the vast complex, prisoners can easily find or make weapons, he said.

In the confrontation at Alcacuz, authorities said members of the Sao Paulo-based First Command, Brazil's largest criminal gang, known by the Portuguese acronym PCC, fought with local gang Crime Syndicate of Rio Grande do Norte.

Police forces have begun building a wall of shipping containers to separate rival prisoners from one another. Eventually, the temporary measure will be replaced with a concrete wall.

In the violence, many of the dead were dismembered, and investigators from the medical examiner's office on Saturday found several body parts, including a full skull, parts of two other skulls and other bones. Given the state of decomposition of the skulls, the office said they belonged to people killed in the violence a week ago.

Of the 26 bodies previously sent to the medical examiner, 22 have been identified, the office said in a statement.

Much of the prison appears to have been damaged in the previous week. From a vantage point outside, holes could be seen in the walls and rooftops of buildings within the complex. Debris littered the ground. Even before the recent destruction, the prison was commonly called "Swiss cheese" because it was built on sand dunes, and prisoners over the years have managed to tunnel out.

G1 reported another riot Saturday in a prison in Pernambuco state, also in the northeast. It quoted officials as saying one prisoner was killed and 13 injured in the violence before authorities regained control.

The series of riots and grisly killings in Latin America's largest country has put a spotlight on overcrowding, underfunding and understaffing in the prison system. For instance, Alcacuz is home to more than 1,000 inmates, though it was built for 620. Images on TV and in newspapers of prisoners wielding weapons and cellphones have embarrassed President Michel Temer and put pressure on his administration to reform the system.

Authorities in Brazil are under pressure to crack down on crime, in general, and many states have struggled to do that in the context of shrinking budgets amid an economic recession.

 





Urged to resume search

Relatives of passengers and crew aboard the missing Malaysian airliner plan to present the Malaysian transport minister in Australia with letters urging that the search resume.

Sheryl Keen, a supporter of the international victims' advocacy group Voice370, said Sunday she plans to personally hand to Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai dozens of letters from relatives when Liow meets this week in the west coast city of Perth with his Australian counterpart Darren Chester.

Last week, Malaysia, Australia and China announced that the deep sea search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had been suspended, perhaps forever, after a sonar scan of 120,000 square kilometres (46,000 square miles) of the Indian Ocean west of Australia failed to find any trace of the Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board after flying far off course during a trip from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Keen, who chairs her own support organization Aircrash Support Group of Australia, said she had yet to hear from the Malaysian Consulate in Perth whether she would be allowed a one-minute meeting with Liow on Sunday or Monday.

"The general content is urging him to continue the search," Keen said. "I do believe some of them are quite heartfelt and others are quite brief."

Chester's office described the meeting between the two ministers as informal without a set agenda. Both ministers are expected to welcome the final search ship Fugro Equator when it returns from the abandoned search area to Perth's port at Fremantle on Monday.

Voice370 wants the ministers to use the meeting to reconsider the suspension of the search.

"A quick decision to extend the search would avoid the immediate demobilization of the equipment on board the search vessel, Fugro Equator, and additional costs at a later date for mobilization of vessels," Voice370 said in a statement.

Voice370 has launched an online petition to increase public pressure on the governments to continue the search.

Because the airliner was registered in Malaysia, the Malaysian government has a final say on the search's future. Australia, Malaysia and China agree they won't relaunch the search until they have credible evidence pointing to the plane's exact location.

Malaysia has offered a reward to any private company that found the plane's fuselage. The government has not put a figure on that reward.

Keen described that offer as "free-for-all treasure hunt."



No arrests at march

UPDATE: 4:00 p.m.

A day after more than 200 people were arrested in Washington while protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Woman's March on Washington didn't yield a single arrest.

That's according to the District of Columbia's homeland security director, Christopher Geldart.

Friday's protests were led by self-described anarchists, and federal prosecutors say most of those arrested will be charged with felony rioting.

Geldart says, "I think our Metropolitan Police Department performed not only admirably but outstandingly."

He adds, "They knew when we had those who were trying to destroy things and those who were trying to peacefully protest."

Geldart says it is safe to say the crowd at the Women's March exceeded the 500,000 that organizers told city officials to expect. That would make it one of the largest demonstrations in the city's history.


UPDATE: 2:40 p.m.

On his way back from the CIA, President Donald Trump has gotten a first-hand look at the Women's March on Washington.

As the president's motorcade wound through downtown Washington, he passed by hundreds of protesters lining the streets.

Many were holding bright pink signs, and they screamed and chanted as he drove past them in the impossible-to-miss presidential limo. Thousands gathered on the Ellipse are also visible from the White House lawn.

Their roar was also clearly audible to passengers stepping out of the presidential motorcade and back into the White House.


UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.

A massive turnout at the Women's March on Washington has forced a change of plans. With the entire planned route filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters, organizers can't lead a formal march toward the White House.

That's according to a District of Columbia official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official isn't authorized to speak for the march.

The official says that shortly before 1 p.m., people were standing along the entire march route.

While there will be no formal march led from the protest stage near the Capitol, the crowd is still expected to move toward the Ellipse, an area of the National Mall in front of the White House.

The official says there could be more than half a million people on the Mall, but it's difficult to estimate because low cloud cover is making aerial photographs impossible.


ORIGINAL: 7:20 a.m.

Hundreds of Canadian women, many of them wearing pink knit hats or carrying signs emblazoned with the maple leaf and the slogan "sisters of the north", filled the sidewalks of Washington, D.C. Saturday morning as they made their way to a massive rally for women's rights.

Residents came out onto their porches to shout words of encouragement and snap photos of the crowd. Others handed out free coffee.

"We're from Canada!" one woman shouted to a man who greeted the marchers from the front door of his home. "Really?" he replied incredulously. "See you there!"

Roughly 600 Canadian travellers, most of them women, made the overnight trek on chartered buses from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Windsor, Ont. to participate in what's being called the Women's March on Washington. Others made their way to the U.S. capital by car or plane.

The rally is billed as supporting women's rights rather than protesting Donald Trump, the newly crowned U.S. president, who was officially sworn in Friday.

City officials in Washington said Saturday morning that the turnout estimate for the march on the National Mall stood at 500,000 people — more than double the initial predictions. There were early signs across the city that the crowds could top those that gathered on Friday to watch Trump's inauguration.

Many Canadian participants said they were spurred to act by Trump's controversial comments during the election campaign.

Sadaf Jamal, 38, says many people have felt marginalized as a result of the campaign and she wants to help them "stand proud."

"I'm a Muslim woman and that is why I'm marching, because I want to empower all Muslim women," she said on a bus from Toronto.

"Why should we be marginalized? … There's nothing wrong with us. We are talented women, we are courageous women, we can be whatever we want to be."

A dual Canadian-American citizen, Elizabeth Wolfenden said she cried for hours after Trump was elected.

The 18-year-old, who has many relatives still in the U.S., said she initially planned to march with her mother but decided to make the trip alone after her mother was sidelined by an injury.

The rally, she said, is her first trip alone.

"I just really want to take part in history," she said.

"I think this will be historical and I want to say that I was there, that I did something, that I tried to make a difference and I let my voice be heard, that I joined a movement that I think is really important."

Marches were also planned Saturday in virtually every major Canadian city as well as many smaller centres.





Twenty killed at rally

A Nigerian separatist group says the death toll has risen to 20 after a demonstration in support of U.S. President Donald Trump turned into clashes with police.

Friday's demonstration in southern Rivers state was organized by the Indigenous People of Biafra, which wants Trump to support the creation of an independent Biafran state for the Igbo people.

Member Ugochukwu Chinweuba said Saturday that lawyers were working to locate and release those arrested by police. He said more than 200 people remained missing.

Nnamdi Omoni, a spokesman for Rivers state police, denied that anyone was killed but said 65 people had been arrested.

Neither of the competing accounts could be independently verified.

One million people died in the 1967-70 civil war over efforts to create a Biafran state.



World jittery about Trump

President Donald Trump's inaugural speech promised "America first" policy led by a forceful executive, in contrast to the coalition building and international conferences which have featured strongly in past administrations.

The billionaire businessman and reality television star — the first president who had never held political office or high military rank — promised to stir a "new national pride" and protect America from the "ravages" of countries he says have stolen U.S. jobs.

"This American carnage stops right here," Trump declared. In a warning to the world, he said, "From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it's going to be America first."

A look at some reactions from around the world:

AFGHANS DISAPPOINTED BUT HOPEFUL

Like many in the Afghan capital of Kabul, restaurant owner Mohammad Nahim watched the presidential inauguration ceremonies, but was disappointed to not hear any mention of Afghanistan.

"Trump did not mention a word about Afghanistan in his speech and the salaries of the Afghan army and police are paid by the U.S.," he said. He added that if the U.S. stops helping Afghanistan, "our country will again become a sanctuary to terrorists. I hope Trump will not forget Afghanistan."

Mohammed Kasim Zazi, a shopkeeper whose home is in eastern Afghanistan's Khost province, where the feared Haqqani network is prominent, said he expected Trump to stay focused on Afghanistan.

"Trump said he will finish the terrorists in the world and that has to mean that Afghanistan will remain in the sights of the U.S." said Zazi.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said he was encouraged by Trump's speech to soldiers in Bagram. "There he announced his support to the troops and the continuation of support for their troops here and strengthening their troops, which is a good and elegant step and I am sure that our co-operation in other areas will continue as well."

SPEECH RESONATES IN MEXICO

Perhaps no country was watching the speech more closely than Mexico. Trump has made disparaging remarks about immigrants who come to the United States illegally and sought to pressure companies not to set up shop in Mexico by threatening a border tariff on goods manufactured there and exported to the United States.

So Trump's talk of "protect(ing) our borders," ''America first" and "buy American and hire American" had particular resonance in America's southern neighbour.

Ricardo Anaya Cortes, president of the conservative opposition National Action Party, called for "the unity of all Mexicans, unity in the face of this protectionist, demagogic and populist speech we just heard. Unity against that useless wall, against deportations, against the blockade of investment."

"The challenge is enormous. ... We demand the federal government leave aside tepidity, that it tackle with absolute firmness and dignity the new relationship with the United States," Anaya said.

The United States is by far Mexico's largest commercial partner, buying some 80 per cent of its $532 billion in exports in 2015. Mexico is the second-largest market for U.S. exports.

"At least the word 'Mexico' was not heard in the speech. Nevertheless one can expect the United States to launch a hyper-protectionist project," said Ilan Semo Groman, a researcher at Iberoamericana University.

If Trump truly moves to block or drive away U.S. investment in Mexico, Semo said Mexico should focus its commercial efforts on other countries.



Concerned about Trump

People in Beijing expressed doubts Saturday about President Donald Trump's ability to steer the U.S. economy and manage China-American relations, underscoring concerns over trade, Taiwan and other issues.

While Trump didn't mention China in his inaugural address Friday, he referred often to the country during the campaign and upended diplomatic protocol after the election by speaking on the phone with the president of self-governing Taiwan, the island China considers its own territory.

Aaron Wang, who works for a logistics company, said he hoped for the best but was wary of Trump's threat to disrupt commerce between the countries, including imposing a 45 per cent tariff on Chinese imports.

"I will wait and see what Trump actually does in the future, but I do hope that the China-U.S. relations can develop in a good direction under Trump's presidency," said Wang.

A retired teacher, who would only give her surname, Wei, said Trump hadn't yet shown that he could handle the U.S. presidency.

"It's really uncertain whether he can properly run the U.S.," Wei said. "A business person can run a country very well, but he can also do a very bad job."

On a visit to Beijing, Dunkin' Brands CEO Nigel Davis said he wanted to reinforce the importance of global free trade to Trump, who opposes the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and has suggested he might renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I will give him concrete examples and talk to him about how you can overcome obstacles," Davis told The Associated Press.

China is the world's second-largest economy behind the U.S., and Trump railed during his campaign against alleged Chinese cheating at trade and manipulation of its currency. Those assertions came despite evidence that for the past couple of years, China has been intervening in markets to prop up its currency, not push it lower in a manner that would benefit exporters to the detriment of U.S. businesses.

China's economy slowed over the past year and exports fell back into contraction last month, signalling renewed weakness as it faces possible trade tensions under Trump. However, China still sells considerably more to the United States than it buys, resulting in a trade deficit in goods amounted to $289 billion through the first 10 months of 2016.

In a commentary on Trump's inaugural address, the official Global Times newspaper said he had made a number of "lofty promises" but offered few details on how he intended to carry them out.

"It remains to be seen if he can keep his ambitious promise throughout his term — correcting the domestic and foreign policies and the world order he believes to have strayed off track," the paper said.

The commentary also stated that Trump has yet to formulate a China policy despite his constant references to the country during the presidential election campaign.

"His China policy will hinge on how well he understands the overlapping interests of the world's two largest economies, how their national interests intertwine, and whether he is motivated to change the existing structure with force," the paper said.

Along with stating that relations with Beijing were open for re-negotiation, Trump has criticized China's creation of man-made islands in the South China Sea furnished with airstrips and military infrastructure.



Students killed in bus crash

A bus carrying Hungarian school students home from a skiing trip to France slammed into a highway barrier in northern Italy and caught fire, killing at least 16 people, police said Saturday. Thirty-nine people survived, though some were seriously injured.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, and it wasn't clear why the bus hit the overpass support column on the highway near Verona just before midnight, said police commander Girolamo Lacquaniti.

Sixteen badly burned bodies were pulled from the wreckage. Of the 39 survivors, 26 were injured, some seriously, he said.

"One passenger is currently in an induced coma and in life-threatening condition," Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto told reporters in Budapest.

According to Szijjarto, the bus driver lost control of the vehicle, which hit a guard rail and then the overpass support before catching fire. Investigators have found no brake marks at the scene, he said.

RAI state radio said a Slovenian truck driver who was travelling behind the bus had noticed a problem with one of the bus wheels and tried to alert the driver. But the driver didn't react quickly enough, RAI said. The truck driver stayed at the scene trying to help until investigators arrived, RAI said.

In Budapest, a black flag flew from one of the flagpoles above the door of the Szinyei Merse Pal Gimnazium. About 60 students gathered for a vigil outside the school, lighting small candles and laying flowers in memory of the victims.

"We knew many of them but the ones we were closest to and in daily contact are mostly all right," student Tamas Mezo said after placing candles at the door of the school.

He said the school organized a ski camp each year, involving about 50-60 students and a few teachers.

"I was very much planning on going this year but in the end it didn't work out," Mezo said. "There were three or four teachers on the bus and unfortunately one of them did not survive. Our hearts are hurting because we loved him and he was really nice."

Parents of some of the children had arrived at the scene by midday Saturday to bring the survivors home, Hungaria's consul in Milan told RAI.

Hungary's Foreign Ministry said it had information that there were 54 passengers, including adults accompanying the students, and two drivers aboard, but it believes the actual number was higher.



22 killed in blast

A bomb exploded Saturday in a market in a northwest tribal region that borders Afghanistan, killing 22 people and wounding at least 50, officials said.

Dr. Sabir Hussain at the main hospital in Parachinar, the capital of Pakistan's Kurram tribal region, said two more wounded victims died in the hospital, increasing the death toll.

Shahid Khan, an assistant tribal administrator, said the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables from a wholesale shop. He said the attack was being investigated.

Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a banned sectarian militant group that has attacked minority Shiites Muslims in the past, claimed responsibility for the attack. The bombing took place in a predominantly Shiite area of Kurram, which has seen attack by Sunni militants who have hideouts there. Shiites are a minority in Pakistan.

"That was our combined work with Shahryar group of Mahsud Taliban," Ali Sufyan, a spokesman for the banned group, wrote in a text message to an AP reporter.

Kurram has been the scene of increased militant activities in recent years and the Army carried out a massive operation against extremists in the region but they still have the capacity to strike.

Khan said some of the wounded were airlifted to hospitals in Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Hospitals in tribal regions and rural areas of Pakistan typically are not equipped to handle such emergencies.

Khan said the number of wounded increased but they include those who sustained minor injuries. He also said the death the toll had increased to 22.

Ashiq Hussain, who was lightly wounded, was being treated in Parachinar hospital. He said he was among the people purchasing fruits and vegetables loaded on a van when the explosion took place. "There was a big bang and I saw a dark cloud of smoke and dust before passing out," he said.

Ashiq Hussain said he saw bleeding bodies and severed limbs and heard cries when he came back to his senses. "I was just bleeding from my leg," he said. "Thank God I am alive."

Initially, seven people were brought dead from the vegetable market blast site and more than 60 wounded, according to Dr. Hussain. Thirteen of the critically wounded died earlier while being treated, he said.

Shiite leader Faqir Hussain said all the bodies were brought to a Shiite mosque.

Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, the provincial governor, told local Geo television that the remnants of militant groups targeted by security forces were trying to show their existence by such attacks.

"Terrorists largely eliminated by our security forces and the remaining will soon meet their fate if we all together rise against them," he said.



Deadly slide crushes hotel

At least two people were killed and 10 others are missing after a hotel in central China was buried in a landslide, the local government reported Saturday.

Crews were working to dig out those trapped in the Mirage Hotel that was struck by the disaster around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, the government of Nanzhang county in Hunan province said.

Three people were rescued and recovering in a hospital, the county government said in a news release.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 3,000 cubic meters (106,000 cubic feet) of debris tumbled down a slope behind the three-story hotel. It said the cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Xinhua said rescuers pulled five survivors from the debris, two of whom died in a hospital.

Hilly and densely populated Hunan is frequently struck by landslides triggered by heavy rainfall.



Tornado kills four

Four people were killed and scores of homes were flattened early Saturday when a tornado hitting in the dark of night ripped through a city in southern Mississippi, officials said.

The city of Hattiesburg said via its Twitter account that four people had died after the twister blew through the city and surrounding area. The twister was part of a wall of stormy weather travelling across the region, bringing with it rain and unstable conditions.

Mayor Johnny DuPree has signed an emergency declaration for the city, which reported "significant injuries" and structural damage.

The city also said via Twitter that Hattiesburg firefighters and police are going door-to-door to try to rescue victims.

Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said rescuers are still searching the stricken area for more possible victims.

Flynn said "massive damage" was reported in a three-county area that was struck by a tornado at around 4 a.m.

Photos and television images showed the intensity of the damage. Cars were flipped over, sometimes piled on top of each other while parts of houses were ripped into shards of wood and debris.

Once tall trees were ripped from their roots and thrown across roads.

As dawn rose over the city, rescue workers and residents walked down streets strewn with debris and still wet from the storm.

The three counties affected are Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties. Flash flood warnings were also in effect for northern Forrest and Lamar counties, as well as southeastern Jones and Marion counties.

The National Weather Service said three to five inches of rain have already fallen, raising the risk of flooding. More rain — one to two inches — is possible.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is reporting Interstate 59 north of Hattiesburg is closed due to debris. Downed power lines and debris have been reported over a wide area. The public is asked to avoid travelling.

Flynn said the tornado touched down in Lamar, plowed through Forrest and then struck Perry before dissipating.



More avalanche survivors

Emergency crews pulled out four more survivors from the rubble of a hotel crushed by an avalanche and were searching Saturday for more who may still be alive as family members awaited word if their relatives were among the lucky ones.

The overnight operations raised to at least nine the number of people found alive in the rubble of Wednesday's avalanche that demolished the the Hotel Rigopiano in the Gran Sasso mountain area when tons of snow rushed down the mountainside, slamming into the resort.

Dozens of family members and friends kept a tense vigil overnight, and four were rewarded with the arrival of their loved ones at the hospital early Saturday. But one father who has been waiting since Wednesday evening for word of his son's fate erupted in front of television cameras, pointing angrily at the sedans of local officials.

"What are they doing? They aren't doing anything. Why didn't they go get the kids out the night before the disaster?," the man yelled, referring to his son, Stefano Feniello and his fiancee Francesca Bronzi, who was among those hospitalized.

The father, who did not give his name, said he had been told Feniello had survived, but officials had supplied no clear information by midday Saturday, nearly three days after the tragedy.

"Why are they here, taking all the credit. They are disgusting. It is an outrage. I am waiting for three days for my son. They said that my son had been recovered but he hasn't arrived."

Meters-high piles of snow piled up in the central Italian area after days of snowfall earlier in the week that blocked roads and left many of the guests unable to leave before the avalanche.

Firefighter spokesman Alberto Maiolo said a total of four bodies had been found in the rubble. Some 30 people, including guests and workers, were believed to have been inside the hotel when the avalanche struck.

"We are still working, we are verifying the signals we have and continuing our activities to verify if there are other people and when we will be able to pull them out," Maiolo said Saturday morning.

Two other people escaped the devastation just before the avalanche struck, including Giampiero Parete, a chef vacationing with his family who first sounded the alarm by calling his boss. He was reunited with his wife and two children Saturday after they were among the first to be located and extracted from the debris. "Thank you everyone from my heart," Parete wrote on Facebook. "Big hugs."

In all, four children were safely brought out of the rubble and taken to Pescara hospital, where they were reported in good condition.

Nine-year-old Edoardo Di Carlo told his rescuers he had gone into the billiards room to play when he was trapped by the avalanche, and that three children had been together. When the rescuers, eager for details that might aid further rescues, gently asked him if there were other people, including grown-ups, the boy replied: "Only the mamma of another child." He started sounding weary, and the rescuers quickly encouraged him, saying, "bravissimo."

The four children and five adults who were being treated at the hospital Saturday, included one person who underwent surgery for an upper arm compression injury, said, Rossano di Luzio, a physician at the hospital.

Speaking of the four children who are doing well in the hospital, the doctor added: "Their state of mind is that of someone who has suffered a drama and who was in a truly precarious position for many hours."

In the case of two of the children, the fate of their parents is still unknown.

All the patients, including the children, were being given psychological assistance, and had family members near them throughout the night, di Luzio said.



Heroics stop school shooter

A school shooting that left one student hospitalized and others scrambling out classroom windows could have been far worse if not for the heroics of staff members who stopped the shooter and had him pinned down when police arrived, authorities said.

The shooter, a 17-year-old senior, used a shotgun and intended to harm more than the student who was hit, Champaign County Sheriff Matthew Melvin said.

The shooter was in custody facing a preliminary charge of felonious assault, with an initial hearing scheduled Monday, authorities said.

"As tragic as this situation is, we are very, very fortunate," prosecutor Kevin Talebi said. "It could have been much worse. I'm very, very thankful that, as bad as it is, it didn't escalate to a much more tragic incident."

Authorities identified the victim as 16-year-old junior Logan Cole, who was hospitalized in Columbus in critical condition. He was a random victim, the sheriff said.

The West Liberty High School shooting, in a common hallway, was reported Friday morning just as classes were getting underway at the school complex, which is surrounded by farm fields 45 miles northwest of Columbus.

Superintendent Kraig Hissong called Cole "a good kid."

"He's a great student and a real positive person to have in our school system," Hissong said. "Our hearts are out with his family right now and with him as he's trying to recover from this."

The shooter had no significant disciplinary issues, Hissong said.

Cole's family asked for prayers for him and for the shooter and his family.

"We are certain they have been deeply hurt as well," Cole's family said in a statement. "We are confident that God has a purpose and plan through this tragedy."

Senior Ashley Rabenstein said she was in class down the hall at the time. When students first heard an odd noise, they weren't sure what it might be because construction has been occurring at the property, she said.

She said her teacher checked the hallway, then ran back and said there was a shooter and threw desks against the door to block it. Students fled through the windows and ran through a cornfield to regroup at nearby houses, Rabenstein said.

"Especially in ... such a small town like this, where you pretty much know everyone who lives in the town, you just never think that stuff like this is going to happen," she said.

Hissong said teachers and students followed their emergency training, barricading doors and then fleeing if possible.

The district evacuated the school three or four school buses at a time over several hours, loading up students and taking them to a park in nearby West Liberty, where they were met by families.



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