UPDATE: Police report confirms student had gun on school property
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Aquinas Catholic Schools staff confirm a student brought a weapon to the school property last Friday and allegedly made verbal threats, according to an email sent to families from the district’s president. In an incident report from the La Crosse Police Department, authorities found the student had brought the gun to the school and others knew of his plans days prior.
According to a La Crosse Police Department incident report, the student had made threats to shoot other students and specifically target one other teenager. In the report, authorities detail a series of interviews with students and their parents.
Other students believe the gun was stolen from a friends house on April 6. Though the student could have taken the pistol in mid-February.
The parents told investigators that most of the guns they had were in locked rooms, though some are hidden in their residence. Through other interviews, other witnesses said that the teen may have gotten into the locked room in order to get the gun.
On April 8, the student talks about stealing a gun and makes a reference to a “list.” He allegedly made a list of the people he was going to save while he shot up the school.
On April 9, there was an internet search made from the student’s phone for a handgun. The following day, a friend texts to teen in question asking if he was going to shoot a different student at school. The teen allegedly responds that he has a gun for that.
Then on April 12, other students confirm that they saw the student in possession of the handgun at the school and on school grounds. He also references a “list” of the friends he would save. Other students said they saw the gun at school days prior, but the police only confirm that the teenager had it at school on Friday.
On Monday, April 15, someone thought they saw the gun at school and reported it a few hours later to school staff. Police officers did not find a weapon on school property, but it is later found in the student’s bedroom as well as other ammunition.
Authorities recovered the gun from the student’s residence. Further investigation found the firearm was reported stolen from a friend’s home.
The teen told an investigator that he had made statements that he would shoot one other student, but didn’t intend to do so. The student could be charged with Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds and Theft of a Firearm.
The school’s principal was made aware of the possible weapon and threat on Monday. The school district said it followed protocol and immediately called the La Crosse Police Department to address the situation.
School officials and police declined to comment earlier this week about the incident as it was an ongoing investigation. Some parents, like Tom Dolan, talked to their students following the incident.
“We talked to our daughter about it that night and she was aware that something had happened but didn’t have a lot of information,” said Dolan, whose child was not involved in the situation.
The president also said the district would be evaluating its response to the incident and will be making some adjustments to communication.
“I apologize if our earlier message was not as complete as desired, but we wanted to allow for all the facts to be investigated by the police before we make public statements,” said President Ted Knutson, in the email.
But Dolan says he didn’t mind waiting a few days to get accurate information.
“Let the law enforcement and the school administration do their jobs correctly and investigate what exactly what it was that had happened,” Dolan said.
Knutson encouraged families to discuss the incident with their child. The school will be discussing with students the importance of reporting, treating others with respect and what to do in different situations.
“Thank you to the brave students, who had reported the suspicious behavior. They are commended,” Knutson said.
Dolan is glad that the student came forward and took the threats seriously.
“When you hear something like this, unfortunately, you can’t just let it go in one ear and out the other,” Dolan said.
The school district said the student who allegedly brought the gun and made the threats will not be returning to Aquinas High School.
Get your weather forecast from people that actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.
COPYRIGHT 2020 BY NEWS 8000. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.