September 30, 2006 in Nation/World

Teen shoots, kills school principal

Todd Richmond Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Students gather outside Weston High School as the flag flies at half staff on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

CAZENOVIA, Wis. – A teenager who pried open his family’s gun cabinet brought two weapons to his rural school Friday and shot the principal to death after a struggle with adults and other students, authorities said.

The 15-year-old was taken into custody and charged as an adult with murder, the district attorney said. No one else was hurt.

Authorities said the teen had complained about being teased by other students and decided to confront teachers and the principal using a shotgun and handgun taken from his parents’ bedroom. The shooting also came one day after the principal gave him a disciplinary warning for having tobacco, according to a criminal complaint.

Witnesses said the student walked in with the shotgun before classes began. A custodian, teachers and students wrestled with him, but he broke away, took out the handgun and shot Weston Schools Principal John Klang three times, Sheriff Randy Stammen said.

The custodian said the teen was a special education student who told him he was there to kill someone, but did not say who.

“He was calm, but he was on a mission,” said Dave Thompson, 43, who also has two children at the school.

Sophomore Shelly Rupp, 16, described the boy as a freshman with few friends and said he was “just weird in the head.”

“He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids,” she said.

Thompson said the student first pointed a shotgun in a teacher’s face. Thompson took away the gun, but the student then appeared to be reaching for another gun so Thompson and the teacher took cover. Thompson ran into a kitchen to call 911.

Klang then confronted the gunman. After the shots were fired, the principal, who was wounded, somehow wrestled him to the ground and swept the gun away, the complaint said.

Klang, 49, was shot in the head, chest and leg, authorities said. He died hours later at a hospital in Madison.

Sheriff Randy Stammen praised Klang’s swift action. “The heroics of the people involved in this can’t be understated,” he said.

The teen, identified as Eric Hainstock, said a group of kids had teased him by calling him names and rubbing up against him, the complaint said, and the teen felt teachers and the principal would not do anything. The complaint also said Hainstock had told a friend a few days earlier that Klang would not “make it through homecoming.”

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