Teen holds class hostage

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Monday afternoon, 15-year-old sophomore Samuel Hengel brought two automatic guns, two knives and a duffle bag with more than 200 rounds of ammunition into Marinette High School. He held 23 of his classmates and a teacher hostage for hours before fatally shooting himself, shocking the city of 12,000 people bordering Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and making national headlines.

Hengel held the students hostage for more than seven hours before firing three shots around 8 p.m., shortly after he had let five students leave to use the restroom. After the shots were fired, police decided to enter the classroom.

School principal Corry Lambie informed police of the situation at 3:48 p.m., after he had unlocked the basement classroom and Hengel had pointed a gun at him and told him to leave.

Upon police entrance, Hengel decided to turn the gun on himself. Hengel died on Tuesday morning in a local hospital.

Lt. Paul Mascari of Marquette’s Department of Public Safety said law enforcement handles these types of occurrences differently depending on whether they are hostage situations or active shooters.

“If it’s an active shooter, police don’t wait to go in,” Mascari said.  “If people’s lives are in danger, they want to make sure that they do what they can to stop it before someone gets hurt. If it’s a hostage situation, they will try to talk them down or wear them out emotionally.”

Tom Molosky, a senior in the College of Business Administration and a resident of Marinette for the past 12 years, said it was surprising something like this would happen in the small town. Molosky went to Marinette Catholic Central High School, the private school across town.

“It’s really laid back and humble,” Molosky said, referring to Marinette. “(Marinette High School) is just a regular high school. There’s not a super amount of bullying. Just a normal place to be.”

Molosky said he was able to hear news of the hostage situation even before it made news nationwide.

“I would get info faster through text messaging from friends standing outside the high school than I would from the reporters there,” Molosky said. “It was also weird to see Marinette on the front cover of The New York Times and CNN, being such a small town.”

Marinette High School was reopened Wednesday after a thorough search was done for incendiaries.

Mike Hild, Jr. — an ex-S.W.A.T team leader in Dayton, Ohio and the director of Against School Violence, a group dedicated to educating people on the prevention of school violence — said people should always be on alert for an active shooter.

“Students, faculty members, police officers or whoever — it doesn’t matter who you are,” Hild said. “You have to be aware that there are people out there that have problems and might be an active shooter about to happen. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help in those situations because it could happen at any time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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