November 29th, 2010
A 15-year-old high school student who had “some problems in school” held 24 hostages with two firearms for about five hours on Monday.
The suspect shot himself when authorities entered the room and was the only one injured in the standoff, Marinette police chief Jeff Skorik said. The suspect was taken to a hospital and has been reunited with his family. His condition was unknown Monday night.
Marinette High School will be closed today as students, their parents and the community regroup after the standoff, Marinette School District Superintendent Tim Baneck said during a press conference Monday night. Grief support will be available to anyone impacted by the standoff, he said. Baneck said he did not have a timeline for reopening the school.
The gunman, who has not been identified by authorities, was described by a family friend as “one of the sweetest kids you ever want to know.”
“I’m at a loss as to why the young man would have felt pushed to this point,” said Keith Schroeder, a former teacher in the Marinette School District who knows the family. “I know there was some things going on at school, but I’m just at a loss.”
Student hostage Zach Campbell said the incident started when the kids in the room were watching a movie and the student gunman opened fire at the projector, then fired another round near the teacher.
The gunman “didn’t seem like he wanted to hurt anybody,” Campbell said. And at one point, the teacher in the room, 10th-grade teacher Valerie Burd, tried talk to him: “He really got upset when she tried to talk to him. He told her to be quiet.”
One student in the room helped break the ice with the gunman by asking about hunting, Campbell said.
“We talked for, I’d say, six hours,” Campbell said. “He was calm, he was laughing with us, having a conversation.”
The gunman talked with those in the room about hunting, fishing, music and movies.
Student Austin Biehl said he was scared when the incident began, but those feelings eventually changed.
“As it progressed, it was just calm. Everyone was just fine,” Biehl said.
Skorik said the investigation into the incident is just beginning and he does not know whether criminal charges would be recommended against the gunman.
The city of Marinette is 50 miles north of Green Bay and has a population of about 11,700. Marinette High School has about 800 students.
Shortly before all the hostages were released, the gunman allowed five to leave the classroom. Authorities said later he allowed the first wave out of the room because they had to use the restroom.
Campbell said he “asked if I could go to the bathroom. I didn’t have to go, just wanted to see if I could leave.” He said he was the second person to leave the room.
Burd likely played a role in securing her release and the release of the students, Schroeder said.
“She’s very dedicated, educated, loves children,” he said. “If I had been that classroom, I don’t know what I’d have been able to do.”
News of the hostages’ release came as a text message just as a prayer group in Peshtigo began praying for that very thing, said Tim Harwell, youth pastor at the church.
“As a matter of fact, we were praying at that very moment for the release of all the kids, said ‘amen,’ and then someone read the text message,” Harwell said. “We all collapsed.”
Schroeder said he wouldn’t get specific about the problems the gunman had been having at school but said, “I know there was some problems at school. … Somehow, we as a society need to rein in the types of things that are going on with our children…
“He’s a victim, too,” Schroeder said. “People may not realize that. Something had to push him to do this. With the support system and family life that he has, I’m just at a loss. I couldn’t say enough good things about the family, and they are so involved.”
Schroeder said he didn’t know where the guns the boy used had come from.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
8 3 33
his primary challenge (ZC), what he must do/has to do (ZL), and how he obtains his heart’s desire (ZL) all = 83 = Calling the police. A call for justice.