Sparta police: Teen made 'death list'A Sparta High School sophomore with access to weapons made a "death list" of 26 classmates, authorities said Thursday.
By: By Anne Jungen and Patrick B. Anderson, La Crosse Tribune, Wis., Superior Telegram
A Sparta High School sophomore with access to weapons made a "death list" of 26 classmates, authorities said Thursday.
The 16-year-old student, who officials declined to name, is being interviewed at a mental health facility in Marshfield, Wis.
"We believe that he certainly had the means and the opportunity to carry out his threat," Sparta Police Chief Michael Kass.
The student has not been charged with a crime.
Students and staff at the high school learned about the note and alerted authorities, who interviewed the boy Wednesday.
Police and school officials praised the students and staff for reporting the incident, which comes days after a triple fatal shooting at an Ohio high school.
There have been at least 376 shootings at American schools since 1992, according to SchoolShooting.org, a gun-safety advocacy group that tracks school shootings.
"We have to handle all of these situations like they could be carried out," Sparta Superintendent John Hendricks said.
The 16-year-old's note also mentioned bringing a gun to the school. He did not bring the handwritten list into the building.
All the students mentioned on the list, as well as their parents, were notified. Police do not believe they are still in danger.
"We believe this young man acted alone and created the list by himself," Kass said.
The student told authorities he had been bullied and reported the abuse to school officials. Police have not confirmed that report.
School officials are conducting their own investigation.
"In the meantime, he will not be returning to school," Hendricks said.
Open communication with students is key to prevention, said Jon Baudek, chairman of the La Crosse School District's Safety Committee and associate principal of Longfellow Middle School.
"The best information we get is from kids," Baudek said. "We want kids to be comfortable."
Though no similar incidents have been reported in La Crosse, school officials are well aware of the potential for danger and take steps to reduce the risk of student violence.
Teachers are encouraged to listen to their students and report any odd behavior. The district has safety policies that govern evacuation and lockdowns, based on the emergency.
If a similar list were found at a La Crosse school, officials would first investigate the validity of the threat, and then inform parents, Baudek said.
"You want the parents to have trust in the schools," Baudek said.
(c)2012 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)
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