LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Only 28 days into the new year, and already there have been 11 school shootings across the nation in elementary, high school and college campuses. The most recent and deadliest one happened just this past week in western Kentucky at Marshall County High School, where two students were killed and 18 were injured. Chris McDonald is a pastor in Marion, Ky. It's about 40 miles away from the site of the shooting, but kids from his church play sports against the kids from Marshall County High. This past Wednesday, Pastor McDonald held an evening vigil for the community at his church.
CHRIS MCDONALD: Everybody's very heavy-hearted, you know, praying for the victims and praying for the families of the ones that lost children. And I just basically encourage the people that were there that this was not something that God calls and that we need to keep our faith in God and look to him for answers.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Pastor McDonald spoke to his congregation about the shooter, too.
MCDONALD: I just encourage them. You know, it's not a time to hate the young man that did this. You know, obviously, he's needing - he needs something. And love's a good place to start.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The shooting in Marshall County was the 10th school shooting this year. Two days later, in Mobile, Ala., a gun was fired in a high school, though no one was injured. That shooting brought the total this year to 11. Pastor McDonald says...
MCDONALD: You know, it's kind of one of those deals when you hear about it 10 states away, it's scary. But when it's the next county over, it's a whole different deal.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: As the community continues to mourn, Pastor McDonald says his door is always open.
MCDONALD: You know, we help a lot of people in a lot of different ways. And, you know, we're here to help in any way we can.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Pastor Chris McDonald of the Life in Christ Church in Marion, Ky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.