Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A 15-year-old boy took 23 of his classmates and a teacher hostage in a classroom at a small-town Wisconsin high school on Monday, shooting himself as police broke in.
The 24 hostages were released unharmed from the classroom at Marinette High School and the suspect, identified by authorities only as a 15-year-old sophomore, was rushed to a local hospital, Marinette Police chief Jeff Skorik said.
The boy’s condition was not immediately clear.
Skorik said police were dispatched to the high school, where the young suspect held the hostages at gunpoint for some four hours. After five of the student hostages were released, officers surrounding the school heard gunshots and rushed the classroom.
“They saw the suspect with his hands at his sides, they approached him and at that point the suspect raised the gun and shot himself,” Skorik told Reuters in an interview.
After the remaining hostages were evacuated from the school, he said, investigators recovered two guns — a .22 caliber handgun and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol — along with shell casings from both weapons.
He said the hostages were being interviewed by investigators and reunited with family members but that none had been physically injured.
Skorik said police still had no idea of the boy’s motive and said he was a student in the classroom that he took hostage. Marinette High School has about 800 students, according to its website.
The school superintendent in Marinette, a town of nearly 12,000 people some 50 miles north of Green Bay, ordered that the school be open for counseling sessions on Tuesday but said regular classes would not be held and attendance would not be mandatory.
“I think its going to take a little while for this all to sink in,” Skorik said. “Its a horrific ordeal for anybody to go through, especially for children in high school.”
Law enforcement and school officials are more vigilant about the potential for gun violence in schools following the 20 April, 1999 shooting massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.
At Columbine, students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher and injured 21 other students before taking their own lives.