Victims of Kentucky school shooting remembered as pair who grew up side by side

Family and friends of two 15-year-olds gunned down at a western Kentucky high school last week are remembering the victims as long-time friends who started out in school together as young children and ultimately "ended school together." 

Students Bailey Holt and Preston Cope died when a 15-year-old gunman walked on campus last Tuesday and opened fire. 

At a news conference on Saturday, Holt's aunt, Tracy Tubbs, described her niece as an "old soul" who was simple, easy to love and "the salt of the Earth."

Tubbs said Bailey was a "sweatshirt kind of girl" who often wore jeans and Converse shoes, listened to classic rock bands like AC/DC and Van Halen and was a big fan of the Louisville Cardinals college athletic teams.

Tubbs also described the family's grief as "gut wrenching."

Jackie Reid, principal of Sharpe Elementary School in Benton spoke for Cope's family at the news conference and described Preston as a boy who was "caring, compassionate, had a gentle spirit and the biggest heart." 

Reid also said he was on the school baseball team, was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, loved spending time with his family and enjoyed learning about history.

The teens were in kindergarten together and grew up side by side in their tight-knit community.

Tubbs noted that she and Reid were recently handed a photo of Preston and Bailey seen standing next to one another as kindergartners.  

"So, they started school together and they ended school together," Tubbs said. 

Police said 14 students were wounded by gunfire and seven others suffered other injuries when gunfire erupted before classes began.

Investigators said the teenage suspect shot at random and did not appear to target his victims.

Prosecutors are seeking to charge him as an adult. 

The Jan. 23 tragedy was one of eleven shootings this year on U.S. school campuses.