MARINETTE, Wis. — A student armed with a handgun held nearly two dozen students and a teacher hostage in a Wisconsin high school for about five hours before shooting himself when police broke into the classroom, authorities said Monday. No other injuries were reported.
Officers who were outside the Marinette High School classroom said they heard three gunshots shortly after 8 p.m. and broke through the door, said Police Chief Jeff Skorik. The 15-year-old male gunman then shot himself.
Skorik said the teen was taken to an area hospital and his condition was not immediately known Monday night.
Five of the 23 students who had been taken hostage about 3 p.m. had been released about 20 minutes before police entered the classroom because they told the gunman they had to use the bathroom, Skorik said.
The other 18 students and the female teacher, who had acted as a mediator between the male hostage-taker and authorities, were released unharmed once officers were inside.
Skorik said the gunman had refused to communicate with officials during the standoff, but allowed the teacher to speak with authorities by phone.
A school administrator called authorities after 3 p.m. to say a student had taken over a classroom, officials said.
After hours of attempted negotiation, a school bus pulled up to the high school’s entryway shortly after 8 p.m., said Bradley Behrendt, a councilman in the town of about 12,000 people that sits on the border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Behrendt, who had gathered with dozens of others near the scene, said many of the emergency personnel left the area soon after.
Earlier, as a SWAT team deployed, dozens of people eager for news about their children and friends congregated in a nearby parking lot.
“This is not a good mood, there are a lot of people who are scared, a lot of students who are worried,” said Jason Chaltry, 32, whose nephew is a sophomore at the school but was not in the classroom.
The high school has an annual enrollment of approximately 800 students, according to its website.
“They just spent a whole bundle of money on classroom doors to make them secure, but they don’t have metal detectors at the school,” Behrendt said.
Choral teacher Bonita Weydt said she was talking with a teacher in another classroom after school, which lets out about 3:10 p.m., when Principal Corry Lambie came in.
“I said, ‘Corry, what’s going on?’ and he said, ‘Get out of the building,’ ” Weydt said.
Officials then asked parents to gather at the county courthouse, where school officials met with families.
Marinette Schools Superintendent Tim Baneck said the community had gone through an emergency response training exercise last year.
“So the local law enforcement officials as well as the educators were all involved in a mock shooter situation, so it is actually very fresh in our minds in terms of the training we just went through,” he said.