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UPDATE: Sparta student in custody for "death list," shooting threat

SPARTA, Wis. – Just days after a deadly school shooting in Ohio, a bullied teenager in Sparta was planning his own attack.

The Sparta High School student is in police custody after fellow students found out he had written a list of 26 classmates he planned to kill.

Police say there was no mistaking what the sophomore's handwritten list of 26 names was for. It had the words "Death List" written at the top.

"He certainly had the means to carry out the threat, had he wanted to, which is why we took as immediate of action as we had," said Sparta Police Chief Mike Kass.


Police took the 16-year-old into custody Wednesday night.

Interviews with the student revealed he had access to weapons in his home, and that the list was of students he felt had bullied him.

"Sometimes when we interview the person who made the threat, it's clear that they were just venting or they weren't really serious about it at all. It's not uncommon to hear somebody say 'Oh, I'm going to kill you' out jest. But this was totally different than that," said Kass.

Investigators do not think there was anyone else involved with writing the list. They said there is no longer an immediate danger to Sparta High School students or staff.

"That's what we're always wanting to do, is make sure the school remains a good learning environment. It shouldn't be an environment where you have to go with the fear of somebody coming in there with a gun," said Kass.

But Kass said there is a potential the student could be a danger to himself, and there are plans for his mental health to be evaluated.

"Just drafting a death list isn't something that normal kids would do if they're not under some type of stressors. When you look at the fact that he drafted the list, you know, he had the means, he had the motive, in his head, to do these things. That's just abnormal behavior," said Kass.

And while the Ohio school shooting may have seemed far away before, the chief says it now feels disturbingly close to home.

"It does bring to light this whole bullying issue that we've seen on the national scene, and it does kind of bring it back to the local scene. And I think that all area police departments and school districts are actively looking at this and trying to find ways to combat it," said Kass.

Last night investigators contacted all of the students on that list they could identify, but some of the students were listed by first names only.

Right now, the student is at a juvenile facility outside of Monroe County.

Police are still investigating his threat and are reviewing possible sanctions against him.

Classes at Sparta High School were held as usual today.


SPARTA, Wis. -- A Sparta High School student is in police custody after creating a list of students to shoot in retaliation for school bullying.

The 16-year-old male student's name has not been released. Sparta Police Chief Mike Kass tells News 8 students and teachers are not in any danger.

Kass says the handwritten list contained the names of 26 students, and the student referenced bringing a gun to school in retaliation to bullying.

Kass says thre is no evidence the student brought a gun to school, but he had access to guns at his home.

In light of the recent school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, Kass credits students and staff at Sparta High School for taking the threat seriously and notifying law enforcement.

Sparta Police, school officials and Monroe County Human Services are investigating the threat and will review potential charges against the student.

Watch News 8 at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. for more on this story.

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