Two shootings in two days at Wisconsin high schools, plus a third incident involving a fake weapon, have startled much of the state.
Yet no lives were lost, and some may have been saved, which is reassuring.
State and local leaders should wait for more details before drawing too many conclusions. Investigations of gunfire at high schools in Waukesha and Oshkosh continue.
But this much is clear:
- The school districts were wise to employ professional police officers at their high schools to get to know — and protect — students and staff.
- Wisconsin schools are safer because of better security and training.
- More must be done to keep weapons out of the hands of young people.
A school resource officer at Waukesha South was alerted by a student Monday that another student had a handgun, investigators said.
The officer confronted the 17-year-old male student thought to have a handgun. The officer helped secured his classroom and got other students to safety, Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said.
After initially refusing to remove his hands from his pockets, the 17-year-old pulled what appeared to be a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at officers, prompting an officer to shoot the student, police said. The student was in stable condition at a hospital. No one else was injured.
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“A school resource officer and first responders helped prevent this event from potentially becoming even more tragic than it was,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said. “We thank them for their bravery and their service.”
He’s right, and we absolutely do.
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Investigators said Tuesday the Waukesha student brought two pellet guns to school, pointed one at another student’s head, and later at officers. The pellet gun looked like a more powerful handgun.
Later Monday, Waukesha North was on lockdown after a similar report of a student with a gun. Officers found a facsimile gun at the home of a 15-year-old suspect, who was taken into custody.
On Tuesday, a school police officer at Oshkosh West shot a 16-year-old after the student stabbed the officer, according to investigators. Both were taken to the hospital and expected to survive.
Staff at both school districts quickly moved students behind locked or barricaded doors and away from windows with the lights off, according to multiple reports. Waukesha schools have used $1.2 million in state grants to install shatterproof film and alarms on doors, and to train staff on mental health and threats, according to WISN-TV (Ch. 12). District voters also paid for cameras and other security improvements in a referendum. Those measures help limit potential harm.
Wisconsin has made progress in protecting our schools from violence, but more precautions are needed, with officers staying in schools where they can quickly respond.