Student kills principal in US school

Student was described as a boy with few friends and "just weird in the head."

September 30, 2006 04:12
3 minute read.


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A teenager who pried open his family's gun cabinet brought two weapons to his rural school and shot the principal to death after a struggle with adults and other students, authorities said. The 15-year-old was taken into custody after the shooting Friday and charged as an adult with murder, the district attorney said. No one else was hurt. Authorities said the teen, identified as Eric Hainstock, had complained about being teased by other students and decided to confront teachers and the principal using a shotgun and handgun taken from his parent's bedroom. The shooting also came one day after the principal gave him a disciplinary warning for having tobacco on school grounds, according to a criminal complaint. Witnesses said Hainstock walked in with the shotgun before classes began. A custodian, teachers and students wrestled with him, but he broke through, took out the handgun and shot Weston Schools Principal John Klang three times, Sheriff Randy Stammen said. A 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. Student Shelly Rupp, 16, described Hainstock as a boy 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 at a gas station nearby where students and townspeople gathered. Thompson said the student first pointed a shotgun in a teacher's face. Thompson grabbed 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 an emergency operator. 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, Wisconsin. Sheriff Randy Stammen praised Klang's swift action. "The heroics of the people involved in this can't be understated," he said. Hainstock said a group of kids had teased him by calling him names and rubbing up against him, according to the complaint, and the teen felt teachers and the principal would not do anything about it so he decided to confront students, teachers and the principal with the guns. The complaint also said Hainstock had told a friend a few days earlier that Klang would not "make it through homecoming," referring to festivities planned for the school's annual homecoming weekend. Hainstock could get life in prison if convicted, District Attorney Patricia Barrett said. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty. Detectives executed a search warrant at Hainstock's house late Friday, the sheriff said. The teen was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Monday. Children from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade attend the small school near Cazenovia, a community of about 300 people about 113 kilometers northwest of Madison. The shooting took place two days after a gunman took six students hostage in a Colorado high school and killed one of them before committing suicide. Klang and his three children graduated from Weston Schools. He was once a teacher, then farmed for about 18 years before returning to teaching and taking over as principal in 2004, his father, Don Klang, said. The younger Klang was being groomed to take over as superintendent next year. Laurie Rhea, 42, said the principal spent last weekend at the gas station washing cars for a homecoming fundraiser. "All the kids just loved him," she said. High school students were offered counseling, authorities said. Younger students were bused home. The homecoming parade, football game and dance were canceled or postponed.

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