Victim's family asks for prayers for suspect sought in Pius stabbing

2013-10-07T20:30:00Z 2015-02-16T07:46:04Z Victim's family asks for prayers for suspect sought in Pius stabbingBy JONATHAN EDWARDS, MARGARET REIST and PETER SALTER / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

As the search continued for 16-year-old Lincoln Pius X student Sarah Piccolo, the family of the student who police say Piccolo attacked at school Monday morning asked for the community's support.

"We ask you to join us in prayer for Sarah Piccolo and her family," said a statement from the family of Ellen Kopetzky, 17.

"We pray that she may be treated with respect and with mercy, and that our community will also support her family."

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Piccolo, a junior at Lincoln Pius X, allegedly cut Kopetzky, a senior, in the face in a bathroom at the high school at about 9:45 a.m., Lincoln Police Capt. David Beggs said.

The incident sparked an armed search of the school and lockdowns at other schools in the east part of town.

Investigators found a large survival knife and a claw hammer in the bathroom, Capt. Jim Davidsaver said.

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Davidsaver declined to say what investigators think prompted the attack at the Catholic high school, which has about 1,075 students in grades nine through 12.

Davidsaver said the attack is the most severe he has seen at a Lincoln school during the 27 years he has worked for the police department.

In the chaos of Monday morning, three seniors told a teacher they had seen an ambulance as they walked into school and passed Piccolo as she left.

Police believe Piccolo fled in a gray 1992 Buick Park Avenue before administrators locked the school down and officers swarmed the campus at 6000 A St. Piccolo is described as white, 5-foot-5, 105 pounds, with brown hair.

“I'm just scared to death,” Sarah's father, John Piccolo, said Monday afternoon. “She's out driving. She's scared. She's running.

“We don't know where she's at.”

Davidsaver said he didn't know whether Piccolo was a danger to herself or others. The search continued into Monday night.

“We're contacting everybody we can,” Davidsaver said. “All of our officers are keeping an eye out.”

Kopetzky's family confirmed she had had surgery at Bryan West Campus to treat multiple injuries.

"Thank you for your prayers, your compassion and your well-wishes," the family said in a statement released Monday evening. "By God's grace, Ellen will recover."

Police locked down Pius X for nearly two hours as more than two dozen officers -- at least one armed with an assault rifle -- combed the school three times to make sure Piccolo wasn't hiding inside. They let students who had been off campus come into school at about 11:30, but told them they wouldn't be able to leave until the end of the school day.

As for the students remaining in the building, the Rev. Jim Meysenburg, Pius X superintendent, said: "Our students and school are safe. The school is the safest place to be right now.”

Some parents, however, made the decision to take their students out of school early.

Pius X senior Sydney Eddy was among a few students who left the school at about noon.

Eddy, who recently moved to Lincoln from West Virginia, said she was in the school commons area when a vice principal ran up and said they were in a “code red.”

Eddy and other students were sent to a corner of the commons area, where they spent about an hour and a half in a locked closet about the size of a food pantry.

She described the ordeal as nerve wracking and intense.

The school held a small prayer service for students close to the victim Monday afternoon, said JD Flynn, spokesman for the Diocese of Lincoln.

The school's counselors have been available to students throughout the day. They, and counselors from Catholic Social Services, will continue to be available to students who need assistance, he said.

Parker Scheer, a 17-year-old senior, said Monday morning's attack was an aberration.

“There's nothing remotely close to this that's happened before,” Scheer said. “You see it in other parts of the country, but Lincoln's always been a nice city.”

He also said he doesn't know why anyone would attack the victim.

“She's one of the nicest girls you'd ever meet in your whole life,” Scheer said. “I've never heard of anyone having any problems with her.”

Bryce Holcomb, a 14-year-old Pius X freshman, missed morning classes because he was getting his braces off. His father, Randy, took him to the appointment and heard something about a stabbing at a Lincoln school, but not which one.

He said he was glad to have his son within arm's reach.

“It was a relief knowing he was safe,” he said. “I feel for those parents that don't know. My heart goes out to them because it's tough."

A sophomore student inside the school during the lockdown described the search in a text message to the Journal Star.

“(We're) OK and not scared. There's tons of cops near us cuz my classroom is close to the office. 1 girl in my classes dad is a detective on scene. But we were kinda scared at first cuz the person and the vice principal ran right by and then a code red was announced."

Several nearby schools, including East High, Lefler and Mickle middle schools and Eastridge, Pyrtle, Maxey, Morley and St. Joseph's elementary schools, were on lockdown because of the incident at Pius X. The lockdowns were lifted at about 1 p.m., once police were convinced the suspect no longer was in the area.

No firearms were involved in the incident, police said, and it was unclear whether the two girls involved know each other.

Early on in the search, police went to Piccolo's home near 70th and Dudley streets. An officer knocked on the door, and when no one answered, returned to his cruiser.

John Piccolo was at the house by Monday afternoon and said his daughter is just a kid, and he's worried about her.

Piccolo's grandmother, June, said her granddaughter has always been a sweet girl.

“I wouldn't have even thought this (possible), because she's always a quiet girl,” she said.

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