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Police killed student outside Wisconsin school after reports of someone with a weapon, official says

Associated Press

MOUNT HOREB, Wis. (AP) — Police shot and killed a student outside a Wisconsin middle school Wednesday after receiving a report of someone with a weapon, the state’s attorney general said in the first law enforcement briefing on gunshots that sent children fleeing and prompted an hourslong lockdown of local schools.

Authorities had previously said an active shooter who never got inside the building was “neutralized” outside Mount Horeb Middle School. State Attorney General Josh Kaul told reporters Wednesday evening no one else was harmed and that an investigation is ongoing.

“This incident took place outdoors. The subject in this case never gained entry,” he said.

Authorities described the student as a juvenile male but didn’t provide an age or indicate which of the Mount Horeb district’s schools he attended.

Kaul declined to answer several questions about what happened once police responded, including whether the student had fired a weapon, what type of weapon he had, and whether he tried to get inside the school. Authorities said multiple Mount Horeb officers, wearing body cameras, had fired weapons but they did not say how many.

Police remained on the scene hours afterward while students were kept locked down in buildings late into the afternoon before slowly being released to relatives.

For panicked kids and their terrified parents, it was an anxious, unsettling wait. Parents described children hiding in closets, afraid to communicate on cell phones, and one middle schooler said his class initially fled the school gym on in-line skates.

The district used Facebook posts throughout the day to give updates, with the earliest around 11:30 a.m. reporting all district schools were on lockdown. Authorities in Mount Horeb said the “alleged assailant” was the only person harmed, and witnesses described hearing gunshots and seeing dozens of children running.

Several hours later, school buses remained lined up for blocks outside the middle school and police tape surrounded the middle school, the nearby high school and playing fields between both buildings.

“An initial search of the middle school has not yielded additional suspects,” a post around noon said. “As importantly, we have no reports of individuals being harmed, with the exception of the alleged assailant.”

Earlier, the district posted without elaborating that “the threat has been neutralized outside of the building” in Mount Horeb, a small village about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the state capital of Madison.

Jeanne Keller said she heard about five gunshots while in her shop The Quilting Jeanne, just down the block from the middle school.

“It was maybe like pow-pow-pow-pow,” Keller told The Associated Press by phone. “I thought it was fireworks. I went outside and saw all the children running … I probably saw 200 children.”

One middle schooler said his class was in the school gym practicing in-line skating when they heard gunshots.

Max Kelly, 12, said his teacher told the class to flee. He said they skated to a street, ditched their in-line skates and ran to a nearby convenience store and gas station and hid in a bathroom.

Kelly, shoeless, was reunited with his parents and sat on a hillside with them early Wednesday afternoon waiting for his younger siblings to be released from their own schools.

“I don’t think anywhere is safe anymore,” said his mother, 32-year-old Alison Kelly.

Police in Mount Horeb said they could not provide information in the immediate hours afterward. The Dane County Sheriff’s office directed reporters to a staging area but also provided no updates.

Anxious parents spent hours thronging a bus depot waiting for their kids. Kaul said law enforcement had been concerned about the possiblity of a continuing threat though he didn’t provide more details. He said investigators sought to interview students as they were reunited with parents.

Shannon Hurd, 44, and her former husband, Nathian Hurd, 39, sat waiting for their 13-year-old son, Noah, who was still in the locked-down school.

Shannon Hurd said Noah texted her saying he loved her and she nearly fell down the stairs at her work as she rushed to the school.

“I just want my kid,” she said. “They’re supposed to be safe at school.”

Stacy Smith, 42, was at the bank Wednesday when she saw police cars rush by and got a text warning of an active shooter.

She initially couldn’t reach her two children — junior Abbi and seventh-grader Cole. Finally, she reached Abbi by phone but the girl whispered she was hiding in a closet and couldn’t talk. She eventually connected with both and learned they were OK.

“Not here,” she said in disbelief. “You hear about this everywhere else but not here.”

Schools nationwide have sought ways to prevent mass shootings inside their walls, from physical security measures and active shooter drills to technology including detailed digital maps. Many also rely on teachers and administrators working to detect early signs of student mental health struggles.

Mount Horeb Area School District Superintendent Steve Salerno suggested that without recent security upgrades “this could have been a far worse tragedy.” He said students immediately told school staff about seeing someone suspicious outside the building but did not elaborate.

“It’s an experience that you just pray to God every day that you just don’t ever have to enter into,” Salerno told reporters.

The village is home to around 7,600 people and the central office of outdoor gear retailer Duluth Trading Company. Mount Horeb markets itself as the “troll capital of the world,” a reference to carvings of trolls stationed throughout its downtown district.


Associated Press reporters Corey Williams in Detroit and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: AP National News

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