Downturn forces cuts in public services with many schools facing closure.
Jeff Skorik, the Marinette police chief confirmed that no hostages had been injured in the school seige [Reuters]
A high school student who shot himself after taking his teacher and classmates hostage has died of his wounds at a Wisconsin hospital, authorities say.
Samuel Hengel held 23 students and a teacher for nearly five hours at a high school in Marinette, Wisconsin on Monday evening before shooting himself.
Officers who had positioned themselves outside the classroom heard three gunshots shortly after 8pm on Monday and busted through the door, Jeff Skorik, the Marinette police chief, said.
Hengel, who was standing at the front of the classroom, shot himself as officers approached. An officer grabbed his arm just as he squeezed the trigger, but it was too late to save him.
The 15-year-old teen was transferred from a local medical center to a hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin where he died on Tuesday morning, the Marinette County Emergency Management agency said.
The boy was armed with two handguns, and police found a duffel bag with ammunition.
Hengel’s motivation was still unclear on Tuesday. The teen had refused to communicate with officials during the standoff and did not make any demands.
Students who were in the classroom described how they put their captor at ease – even to the point of laughter – by engaging him in oddly casual conversations about hunting, fishing, movies and music.
The teen had made his classmates put their cell phones in the middle of the room and broke his own phone when it rang.
Zach Campbell, one of the students taken hostage, said that Hengel appeared depressed but did not seem like he wanted to hurt anyone.
The students were watching a film about Greek myths in class, when the teen pulled out a gun and shot at the projector, Campbell said. The gunman then fired another shot, he added.
The high school has about 800 students, according to its website.
Marinette is in the north of the city of Green Bay, near Michigan’s upper peninsula.