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On December 1, 1997, a 14-year old boy named Michael Carneal carried five loaded guns to Heath High School in West Paducah, an unincorporated community about 10 miles from the city. He shot at a group of fellow students as they were leaving a preschool prayer group in the school's courtyard. Three (all girls) were killed, and five others were wounded; one of the wounded was left a paraplegic. Five of the victims were shot in the head, and three were hit in the upper torso. Chapman, a 1981 Heath graduate, performed at the memorial service for the three slain girls.
Paducah is located at 37°4'20" North, 88°37'39" West (37.072226, -88.627436)1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 50.5 km² (19.5 mi²). 50.5 km² (19.5 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.10% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 26,307 people, 11,825 households, and 6,645 families residing in the city. The population density is 521.4/km² (1,350.2/mi²). There are 13,221 housing units at an average density of 262.0/km² (678.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 72.78% White, 24.15% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. 1.38% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 11,825 households out of which 25.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% are married couples living together, 16.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% are non-families. 39.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 17.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.12 and the average family size is 2.84.
In the city the population is spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 83.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 77.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $26,137, and the median income for a family is $34,092. Males have a median income of $32,783 versus $21,901 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,417. 22.4% of the population and 18.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 33.8% are under the age of 18 and 16.8% are 65 or older.