Suspect in custody, lockdown at Slinger Center College
SLINGER, Wis. — A suspect is in custody after the student admitted to saying “I have a gun” in a crowded hallway at Slinger Middle School in Washington County on Friday, sparking a district-wide lockdown and a massive response from police.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said they did not find a gun and that no injuries have been reported. They described the incident as a “hoax.”
The Slinger School District said they believe the situation has stabilized. The middle school, as well as Slinger High School and Slinger Elementary, are under lockdown due to the incident. The lockdown will continue “as we complete the investigation. We will inform you when the lockdown has been lifted,” according to a letter to families.
Near Slinger Middle School on Friday.
Charges for juveniles and adults can range from disorderly conduct (which could include jail time), to making a terrorist threat, a felony that could result in jail time, fines up to $25,000, to removing the ability to own a gun for the rest of your life.
The school district said in an earlier letter that “At this point, it is still an active investigation but we believe this may have been a case of a foolish statement coming from a possibly joking manner. An update will follow as soon as possible.”
DETAILS FROM THE CHIEF
Dozens of anxious parents huddled around Slinger Police Chief Dean Schmidt for updates following the lockdown at Slinger Middle School.
“Our dispatch center got a call from the middle school that there was a student who made a comment that he had a gun and was going into the school, into the stairwell,” Chief Schmidt said.
Chief says there was no gun.
Dozens of law enforcement swept the campus for hours just to make sure.
WATCH: Police chief releases new details about incident
Police Chief Dean Schmidt
“The student admitted it was a hoax and he said it because he thought it was funny,” Chief Schimdt said.
Upon hearing this, parents immediately reacted and expressed their outrage.
“It’s not funny,” said parent Jason Koch. “There’s nothing funny about this. It’s disgusting. It’s sad. It’s tragic.”
“Honestly, I’m irritated with it, because it’s a foolish statement to make based on what has been going on in the last week and a half,” Chief Schmidt said. “And we will be looking at if we can file some charges.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a student who makes false threats could face suspension or expulsion.
The FBI says hoax threats can be considered federal crimes.
In Wisconsin, charges can range. They can include making terrorist threats, which is a felony that can carry a $10,000 fine and more than three years in prison.
“I don’t want this to be something that is going to be a black eye on our school district because this is one of the better schools that you can send your kids to,” Chief Schmidt said. “And that is another reason that it’s a little irritating that it comes to this. I don’t want people to think they may not want to send their kids here, because it’s a safe school.”
REACTION FROM FAMILIES
before they knew those details, parents were told to come to a staging area in the parking lot outside Kettle Moraine Bowl in Slinger. Hundreds of them showed up, worried about their kids. All they had heard was that schools were on lockdown because of a credible threat.
“I’m in panic mode and need to find out what’s going on,” said Lily Hernandez.
WATCH: Parent talks about incident
Parent talks about Slinger incident
“I rushed here and felt terror,” said Melody Wiedmeyer. “I just want to see my son.”
“I found out through a Slinger mom group on Facebook,” said Christina Webber. “There were a couple of posts describing 30 police squad cars and officers with guns outside the middle school. I immediately texted my son who is in eighth grade there. But I didn’t hear back from him, which is not typical. So, that also made it worse.”
Many of these moms just had conversations with their kids about safety at school.
“My son and I talked last night about what happened down in Texas and he told me Slinger is safe,” said Webber. “He told me he feels very safe in Slinger. Then this happens today.”
“I literally just had a conversation yesterday with my child,” said Hernandez. “You don’t want to tell them something to scare them, but you also want to be informative. I tell them to be very vigilant and to always be aware of their surroundings and the people around them, even at school.”
This week especially, they know how lucky they are that what happened here was a false alarm.
“Our whole family is on the way to our house right now so we can all be there hug him,” said Wiedmeyer. “The fear we all felt was very real, and we appreciate how school leaders and first responders acted. It reassured us that if this does ever happen, they are on it and are going to act fast.”
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