Teen Calls Mother as She's Dying. Parents Rush to School But Can't Find Her


On Jan. 23, 15-year-old Bailey Holt walked into her Kentucky high school like any other day. But tragically, she would never walk out.

Bailey was one of two students who did not survive the mass shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. Preston Ryan Cope, 15, also lost his life that day, and 18 other students were injured.

Just days after losing their beloved daughter, Bailey’s parents, Secret and Jasen Holt have courageously spoken out about their heartbreak. They revealed that one of Bailey’s final moments was spent making one final phone call to her mother.

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When the Holts first learned that Marshall County High School was under fire, they frantically tried to reach their daughter. Over and over, they called, but never heard back.

Then, hope — Secret Holt’s phone rang, and it was Bailey. But hope quickly dissipated when Secret realized her daughter was unable to speak.

“She called me and all I could hear was voices, chaos in the background,” Secret recalled.

“She couldn’t say anything and I tried to call her name over and over and over and she never responded.”

Bailey’s frantic parents raced to the school, and waited in agony for a glimpse of their daughter. Eventually, they were escorted to the fire department, where they learned of their daughter’s fate.

Heartbroken and overwhelmed with emotion, Bailey’s parents shared what they loved most about their beautiful, amazing daughter. At just 15, Bailey had already settled on becoming a labor and delivery nurse one day, knowing she wanted a career where she’d be serving others.

“She helped others — she was just so kindhearted and the most amazing kid anybody could ever ask for,” a tearful Secret confessed. “Her smile could light up the room.”

Secret can hardly fathom how everything changed in an instant, all at the hands of another student. The shooter, whose name has not yet been released, has been charged as an adult with two counts of murder and 12 counts of first-degree assault.

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“I don’t know if I can go to court and see him,” Secret admitted. “I just don’t know if I can, but I want him to pay for everything he’s done.”

“I also want to pray for him, too, because I know he’s probably having a hard time too, but he took our baby,” she continued. “He still took my baby from me.”

As they process the onslaught of emotions, Bailey’s family is trying to keep the focus on honoring their daughter’s life. She is gone too soon, but her family says Bailey would want them to forgive the shooter.

“She would absolutely tell us all to stop all the fuss, not to be angry, forgive him and pray for his mom,” said Bailey’s aunt, Tracy Tubbs. “She would, in a heartbeat, stand by those words.”

“She would not have an angry bone in her body,” Tubbs expressed. “She would rather us turn our pain into something good, and that’s the best way we are going to represent her life.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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