Shortly after 10 am on Monday, an announcement resonated over the public address system at Waukesha South High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. “Lockdown. Lockdown. Lockdown.” And a terrifying scene unfolded.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a 17-year-old male student had pulled out a handgun in a classroom. The teacher and the school’s armed resource officer (SRO) both acted quickly.
The incident occurred in the classroom of a special education teacher named Brett Hart. Hart was able to restrain the suspect until the SRO arrived. This allowed several students to leave the room.
According to Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack, the SRO “responded immediately and secured the classroom while getting other students to safety.” Jack said that other Waukesha police officers and Waukesha County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene and “began a dialogue with the suspect in an attempt to deescalate the situation.”
When the suspect pointed his gun at the officers, the SRO “was forced to discharge his firearm, striking the suspect.” His injury was not considered life threatening because the officer did not shoot to kill.
The suspect was then taken into custody, before he had injured any others.
Fortunately, Waukesha South High School had been prepared for this eventuality. Due to the quick thinking and action of the teacher and the proximity of an armed officer, lives were saved.
Hart’s wife told the Sentinel that her husband had previously worked for the Waukesha County Juvenile Detention Center as an on-call supervisor. No doubt he’s had some training in crisis management. He acted calmly, decisively and knew how to handle an emergency. It would be a good idea for all teachers to undergo emergency training. And schools should consider arming teachers who feel comfortable with and who have been trained in the use of firearms.
It should also be noted that because the suspect is under 18, he clearly did not purchase the gun himself. Therefore, neither more stringent background checks or nor stricter gun laws would have prevented him from obtaining this gun.
Hopefully, this troubling episode will serve as a lesson to schools which have so far refused to hire an armed SRO. Every high school should have one on the premises whenever the school is open. There is no denying that Waukesha’s good guy with a gun took down a bad guy with a gun.
Like it or not, random school shootings are going to continue. The better prepared a school is, the more lives will be saved.