When David Dick and Cory Hamby entered the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office interview room Jan. 23, 2018, chaos gripped the county outside.
In the immediate aftermath of a shooting that had rocked the high school, parents were desperately trying to reconnect with their children, while first responders were still discovering wounded students who had fled to other parts of the school and its grounds.
But inside the interview room, Kentucky State Police troopers Dick and Hamby found an altogether contrasting atmosphere — a teen who had just killed two and injured 14 more giving a confession with a nonchalant tone.
“Where’s the emotion at,” Hamby told The Sun on Friday, recalling his thoughts as he joined the interview of Gabe Parker, who is now serving concurrent life sentences on each of two murder charges, along with various 10- and 20-year sentences on his assault convictions.
“We pretty well knew the who, the what, the when, the how. We knew that Gabe Parker was responsible for the shooting,” Hamby said.
“The next question that was on everybody’s mind … was why.”
Over the course of the nearly two-hour interview, several different law enforcement officers asked Parker why.
Marshall deputies initiated the interview shortly after Parker’s arrest at the school, with Dick and Hamby joining in about halfway through the two-hour conversation, a printout of the transcript provided by the Marshall County Circuit Court Clerk’s office shows.
Eventually an FBI agent also joined the interview, which included Parker reiterating much of the same information regarding particulars of the shooting, his actions in the days preceding it and his description of his motives.
“He didn’t really give us a good answer,” Hamby said.
The following quotes attributed to Parker are taken directly from the transcript.
For the first large portion of the interview, Parker, then 15, was interviewed by Marshall County deputies.
Parker confessed in short order, following the reading of his Miranda rights, and the conversation quickly moved to his intentions.
After Deputy Jeff Daniels told Parker he had “stirred up a hornet’s nest,” Parker simply replied, “That seems so.”
Within a few questions, Parker indicated he was “observing how things worked generally,” and mentioned considering life in prison.
“I don’t know, I’d figured I’d try it,” he said.
When Daniels expressed curiosity as to why Parker would commit the shooting, Parker responded “I don’t really know. I just kind of felt like it, I guess.”
Those answers were characteristic of much of the rest of the interview, during which Parker cited boredom, low grades, curiosity of how society would respond and the desire to go to prison as factoring into his rationale.
“If people didn’t have to get hurt, I wouldn’t have then but that’s the way this works,” Parker told Daniels, following up with “I hope nobody dies. Do you know how many were wounded?”
He echoed those thoughts at other times throughout the interview.
Shortly before Hamby and Dick answered, Parker told deputies that, being an atheist, he felt there was no purpose in life, and he had considered suicide in the past.
Hamby and Dick encountered more of the same.
After revisiting the details and logistics of the shooting, Dick turned his attention again to Parker’s intentions.
“Just realization that there’s not much of a point in life, in being here,” Parker said.
“And if I have no point, do they? Does anyone? What’s going to happen if I do this? What does the universe do anything? Does it care?”
Hamby and Dick asked whether Parker did much research on other school shootings, if he talked to anyone about his plans or engaged in any online message boards about school shootings. Parker said he didn’t.
He also claimed he hadn’t been bullied and his situation at home was fine. He said he hadn’t shot to kill any particular people.
Parker did tell investigators that he intentionally shot away from his friends in the band room, picking the commons area so the shooting would be “among the nameless faces.”
“For me this was an experience that I really hadn’t had yet, in terms of his detachment and his lack of empathy and emotion,” Hamby said Friday.
“I know those people exist … but this was my first like sit down across the table face to face with somebody that was just completely devoid of emotion.”
Dick recalled continually “trying to get an insight into his view and the reason he did this.”
“I think Cory and I both felt like something was left out there. We didn’t really grasp anything that would explain it to us.”
At points, officers brought up the question of why Parker didn’t shoot into the ceiling or the ground if he was only intent on a reaction and not killing anyone.
“He didn’t have a really good answer,” Dick recalled.
He said Parker tended to give measured answers that seemed honest, but he wasn’t confident Parker ever told the full truth about his motivations.
“You never really know what’s going on in somebody’s head. Only they know.”
Near the end of the interview, Hamby said he showed Parker a picture of victim Bailey Holt, and Dick asked Parker if he believe she had a purpose.
“I don’t know,” Parker responded.
After discussing her purpose and Parker admitting she didn’t have a choice in her life ending that day, Dick asked what Parker felt when he saw the picture.
“I felt like something just happened,” Parker said.
Hamby said in his experience interviewing suspects of horrific crimes, he usually sees some feeling come through during the conversation.
“We’ve interviewed some pretty callused people, some pretty bad killers, but you still can sense some tinge of emotion in there,” Hammy said.
“Maybe they have some regret for their victim, maybe they have some regret for their family that they’re putting them through this, but (with Parker) I didn’t experience that at all.”
Asked whether he believed Parker could be rehabilitated in prison, Dick replied “I think only Mr. Parker truly knows that.”