Student arrested for bringing stolen gun to La Follette High School; co-curricular events canceled

MADISON, Wis. — A student was arrested Thursday afternoon for allegedly bringing a gun to La Follette High School, Madison police said Thursday.

School officials called police at about 1:40 p.m. Thursday after receiving an anonymous tip that the 18-year-old had the weapon.

According to La Follette High School Principal Matthew Thompson, the tip came from a parent who provided school officials with the name of the student.

The school was then put on a hold status, keeping students and staff in classrooms and clearing the hallways, Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds said.

Police said the student tried to push his way out of a classroom when officers arrived, but a school administrator was able to stop him.

Thompson personally approached the student once he was out of class and in the hallway.

“I also have a deep relationship with this student, and I’m heartbroken by this too,” he said.

Officers found the gun, which was previously reported to be stolen out of Cottage Grove on September 24, in the student’s inside jacket pocket, Police Chief Shon Barnes said in an interview with News 3 Now. It was loaded and had a bullet in the chamber.

Barnes said it’s unclear if the student was the one to steal the gun.

“We don’t know why he chose to bring the weapon to school,” Barnes said. “Obviously our officers are working through that, obviously, as a suspect, he’s not compelled to give us a statement.”

After arresting the student, the investigation revealed information of enough concern to cancel all sports and co-curricular events scheduled for Thursday at both La Follette and East high schools, MMSD officials said. A basketball game between the two schools originally scheduled for Thursday is being postponed.

“Something we were all looking forward to, right? We had to cancel our after-school activities. We should not have to do that,” Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins said.

Lafollette Hs Gun At School Mpd

Courtesy: Madison Police Department

Extra officers were on hand for both schools’ dismissals, Barnes said.

The police chief said the incident points to a safety gap after school resources officers were pulled from the district before last school year.

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“The SROs are now phased out and it’s now incumbent on the school system to keep the kids safe,” he said. “I’m just glad that our officers were not tied up on another call.”

District officials said they are doing everything possible to respond quickly when these situations occur but that everyone needs to be committed to keeping kids safe.

“I ask that you talk to your children, talk to your neighbors and make sure that everyone understands, it takes all of us to have a safe place,” Jenkins said.

The student could face charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm on school property, resisting an officer and bail jumping, according to police.

News 3 Now is not naming the student at this time as part of a policy not to name suspects until they have been formally charged in Dane County court. He is currently being held in the Dane County Jail.

Police said the investigation is still ongoing.

RELATED: Note referencing deadly Michigan school shooting found at Memorial HS; no safety risk to school community, MMSD says

The incident happened on the same day officials at Memorial High School found a note in a bathroom referencing the deadly school shooting in suburban Detroit earlier this week. MMSD said there is no threat to the school community from that incident.

Both incidents are being handled separately, the district said.