Police arrest 15-year-old in accidental Wednesday bus shooting

September 21, 2018

Police on Thursday arrested a 15-year-old boy who they say accidentally shot two other teenagers Wednesday afternoon on a Madison Metro bus near La Follette High School.

A 16-year-old suffered a non-life-threatening leg wound and another 16-year-old’s arm was grazed in the shooting just before 4 p.m. near the intersection of Monona Drive and Pflaum Road.

The boy, whose name and address were not released, was arrested at his home on Madison’s Southeast Side at around 7:30 a.m., according to police spokesman Joel DeSpain, and he will likely face tentative charges of recklessly endangering safety. The boy’s family had been in contact with police and he surrendered when police showed up, DeSpain said.

“This was not an intentional shooting,” DeSpain said. He said the boy had been showing the handgun to others on the bus when it went off, firing one shot.

The 15-year-old had fled the bus with the gun after the incident. DeSpain said Thursday that police were still trying to recover the weapon.

All three teens are students in the Madison School District, DeSpain said, but the 15-year-old is not a student at La Follette. Madison School District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson declined to say where the boys went to school and said the district is looking at the possibility that the gun used in the shooting was in a school building earlier Wednesday.

The shooting caused La Follette and Sennett Middle School, which shares a campus with La Follette, to go into lockdown. La Follette lets out at 3:39 p.m. and the shooting was reported at 3:57 p.m. on a bus route, No. 16, commonly used by students to get to and from the schools.

Monona Grove High School and that school district’s administrative office, both located along Monona Drive, were also put on lockdown.

Metro Transit spokesman Mick Rusch said there were about 25 people on the bus at the time of the shooting, including students from La Follette and Sennett.

Strauch-Nelson said there were extra support services staff at La Follette on Thursday for students who needed them. At the request of the district, police also provided extra patrol services around the school.

In February, a La Follette High School student was arrested for bringing a loaded handgun into the school. Several district students were also found with BB guns throughout the last academic year.

Strauch-Nelson said the district has been retraining staff “on safety procedures and emergency protocols” and — with funding from a state grant — is in the “process of making upgrades to our facilities, including locks, cameras and phone systems.”

Parents of Sennett and La Follette students were notified of the shooting Wednesday afternoon.

La Follette Principal Sean Storch also emailed La Follette parents Thursday with more information on the incident and to tell them that the school’s exterior doors are locked during the day, and students must show IDs to enter, and that students and staff are not allowed to open outside doors to let other people into the school.

He urged students and adults at the school to share any concerns.

“If you see something, say something,” Storch wrote.

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