La Follette students to be screened with metal detector wands after student shot near high school

September 27, 2018

La Follette High School students will be screened with metal detector wands as they enter the building Thursday after a student was injured in a shooting near the school Wednesday morning.

It was the second shooting of a teen near the school in just over a week.

A 16-year-old La Follette student, who suffered a non-life-threatening injury in Wednesday’s shooting, was found walking in the area near where a fight took place near the intersection of Turner Avenue and Linda Vista Road, about two blocks from the high school on Pflaum Road on the city’s Southeast Side.

No arrests had been made in connection to the shooting, police said Thursday night.

A car that was driven through the area at the time of the shooting also was hit by a bullet, narrowly missing the driver, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

“A bullet went through the back window of the car, through the passenger seat and out the front window,” he said. “If there had been a passenger in the car, the passenger likely would have been dead.”

In an email to students’ families, La Follette Principal Sean Storch said the school will be taking additional safety measures Thursday and Friday, including requiring students to enter through the Welcome Center “where we will be using metal detector wands, as a way to assure students of their safety.

“This is something we are considering doing as random checks in the future,” Storch said.

La Follette also plans to maintain a closed campus for lunch, Storch said, so students should bring a lunch or plan to buy one at the school.

“Additional staff will be present at school to provide extra supervision, student services support and positive adult presence in our building,” Storch said.

“We are encouraging and supporting students to share information with trusted adults about safety concerns they have, and if they see something, to say something,” he said.

The Dane County 911 center got a call at 10:37 a.m. about people fighting and shooting in the area.

“Callers to 911 reported a fight between several young men,” DeSpain said. “Witnesses also reported at least one gun being fired.”

The teen who was shot was treated at a local hospital and released.

City Council member Amanda Hall, 3rd District, said in a blog post that the teen was struck in the lower half of his body.

DeSpain said the teen who was shot was targeted, but the car was not.

“The public isn’t necessarily in danger in a targeted shooting, but there can be unintended targets,” he said.

Storch said in an email to families there was no threat to the school but students were kept inside the building as a precaution.

“Student safety is our top priority, and we are quick to respond and take safety precautions,” he wrote.

Police were interviewing witnesses, and the area of the shooting was closed to traffic for a time. Officers found two shell casings, though DeSpain said neighbors reported hearing three shots.

Neighbors told police it wasn’t uncommon for young people walking through the area to get into fights.

Last Wednesday, a 16-year-old suffered a non-life-threatening leg wound and another 16-year-old’s arm was grazed when a teen accidentally fired a handgun aboard a Metro Transit bus near La Follette, which caused both La Follette and Sennett Middle School to go into lockdown.

On Thursday, police arrested a 15-year-old boy on tentative charges of recklessly endangering safety.

All three teens involved in that incident were students in the Madison School District, but the 15-year-old arrested was not a La Follette student, DeSpain said. School district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson would not say what schools the three teens attended and said the district was looking at the possibility that the gun used in the shooting was in a school building earlier in the day.

“I am deeply troubled that this is the second incident in one week involving young people with firearms near our school,” Storch wrote to families. “I share your anxiety, disappointment and sense of urgency that this needs to stop. We cannot tolerate this as a community.

In addition to the safety precautions, Storch said, “we are working closely with the city and community members to disrupt this troubling pattern. We also need your help as parents. We are working on a plan to include you and our community in addressing these important concerns together through advocacy and action.”

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