LINCOLN — Piux X senior Ellen Kopetzky told investigators that she didn't even know the name of the attacker who slashed her face Monday morning in one of the high school's restrooms.
Kopetzky, 17, told investigators that she walked into the restroom about 9:45 a.m., after a visit to the guidance counselor's office, and was immediately attacked, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed Tuesday by police in Lancaster County Court.
The suspect identified Monday by police, junior Sarah Piccolo, was taken into custody Tuesday in Woodson County in Kansas, about 250 miles south of Lincoln.
Piccolo was charged as an adult Tuesday with first-degree assault and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
Kopetzky said her attacker had a knife and what she thought was a stick but turned out to be a hammer.
“The victim said her attacker was swinging wildly at her with the knife and stick and did not say a word to her,” Officer Joseph Yindrick wrote in the affidavit. “The victim screamed for help, and a staff member came into the restroom and got her out to safety.”
Afterward, the attacker went out the west side of the school and ran to the east side, where she got into a car and drove away.
Piccolo, 16, was arrested unharmed Tuesday south of Topeka, Kan.
Authorities in Woodson County were responding to a call about someone whose car wouldn't start when they arrested Piccolo, who was alone, said Officer Katie Flood. She was being detained at a juvenile facility in Kansas until authorities could arrange for her return to Lincoln, Flood said.
The arrest ended a tense wait for authorities and school officials, who grew concerned when Piccolo did not contact family or friends after the incident.
Authorities say an 8-inch survival knife and a hammer were used in the assault.
Piccolo had not been interviewed by investigators as of Tuesday morning, Flood said. The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office will arrange for the teen's return to Lincoln, she said.
Meanwhile, Kopetzky was released from a hospital after being treated for cuts to her face and hands and two blows to the head. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Kopetzky's family expressed gratitude for the kindness shown in the wake of the attack.
The family members also said they “are rejoicing that Sarah Piccolo has been found, and that she is safe. We are continuing our prayers for her and her family. We hope that she will be treated with respect, with charity, and with dignity.
“We pray especially that the Piccolo family will be supported by this community as we have been.”
Kopetzky told Yindrick she didn't know her assailant's name but recognized her as a junior at the school. She said she had no idea why she was targeted.
Investigators remained in the dark about a motive, saying rumors that Piccolo had developed a “hit list” of students have not been substantiated. They have found no personal connections between Piccolo and the victim.
“Her actions yesterday, based on descriptions from family and friends, were completely out of character for her,” Flood said Tuesday.
In a statement released late Monday, the Kopetzky family asked that Piccolo be treated with “respect and mercy.”
“We ask that you join us in prayer for Sarah Piccolo and her family,” the statement said.
After police announced that Piccolo had been found safe, Pius X Principal Tom Korta sent a message to parents.
He asked for continued prayers for Piccolo and Kopetzky and their families, and he urged continued respect for their privacy.
“We give thanks to God for the safety of all who were involved in this incident, and pray for His continued peace and comfort as all who were impacted by this event continue to heal,” he wrote.
Officers were stationed at the school Tuesday.
Piccolo was found in the same 1992 Buick Park Avenue that witnesses saw her driving away from the school.
The car belongs to Piccolo's boyfriend, who was questioned early on by investigators. He told them he was shocked by the incident, Flood said, and he has cooperated with police.
Neither school officials nor police had any evidence that Piccolo had been a victim of bullying that might have led her to lash out, Flood said.
She has not been in legal trouble in the past, and she has no record of disciplinary problems at school.