A Wisconsin school resource officer on Tuesday shot and wounded a student who stabbed him during an altercation, police said. It was the second shooting to take place in a high school in the state in two days.
The incident occurred shortly after 9 a.m. in the office of the school resource officer at Oshkosh West High School in Oshkosh — about 90 miles northwest of Milwaukee, police said.
At 9:12 a.m., police received a garbled radio transmission from the school resource officer, who requested assistance and an ambulance, according to Oshkosh police Chief Dean Smith. The first responding officer arrived two minutes later.
The 16-year-old student stabbed the officer with an “edged weapon” before being shot by the officer with a 9mm pistol, Smith said. Both the student and officer were being treated at a hospital for non-life threatening injuries, Smith said.
Smith said investigators were looking into whether there were warnings about the incident on social media. “We believe there was only one suspect involved … and this incident was isolated to this encounter,” he said.
Earlier, police said in a Facebook post that an armed student confronted a school resource officer and both were injured and taken to local hospitals.
The school was on lockdown and parents instructed to reunite with their children at Perry Tipler Middle School, police said.
“Today’s incident was a contained situation,” said Vickie Cartwright, Oshkosh Area School District superintendent.
“First and foremost, we are so grateful for the proactive safety measures in place throughout our district as well as our partnership with local and state law enforcement. Our students and staff followed our emergency protocols.”
She said classes will be canceled on Wednesday and counselors made available. The high school has about 1,700 students.
“Today’s tragic event shows that trained school resource officers can help save lives,” Cartwright said.
The state’s division of criminal investigation has taken over the investigation.
SROs communicate with students, enforce laws
An SRO is assigned to each of the two public high schools in the Oshkosh Area School District, according to the city website.
The primary goal of the officers — who are Oshkosh police officers — is “preventing juvenile delinquency through education and positive communication with students. SROs also respond to problems in their assigned schools and assist when unusual events occur at the elementary schools,” the website said.
SROs take part in appropriate classroom lessons on topics such as bullying, internet safety and laws involving dating and relationships.
The National Association of School Resource Officers said there are between 14,000 and 20,000 SROs across the nation. The association recommends they receive at least 40 hours of specialized training in school policing.
SROs typically are armed, though some jurisdictions prohibit them from carrying firearms on campus. “A school resource officer is a commissioned, sworn law enforcement officer, not a ‘security guard,'” The association said.
Here’s what happened Monday in Waukesha
On Monday in Waukesha, an officer shot an armed 17-year-old student at a high school classroom, police said.
The suspect, who police said pointed a handgun at officers, is in stable condition, Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack told reporters. No other injuries were reported.
The incident at Waukesha South High School unfolded after a student reported a classmate with a handgun. That’s when a school resource officer rushed to a classroom and began getting other students to safety, police said in a press release.
Other officers responded and tried to start a dialogue with the suspect, Jack said. After the suspect refused to remove his hands from his pockets and ignored the officers, he removed the gun from his waistband and pointed it at the officers, the police chief said.
One of the officers — not the school resource officer — fired, striking the suspect, police said. A firearm was recovered from the scene, according to the release, citing that the officer who opened fire was an 11-year veteran of the police department.
School district Superintendent Todd Gray said, “This is a superintendent’s worst nightmare.”
A separate incident at a different school in the same city saw a 15-year-old boy taken into custody after police found him with a replica firearm later at his home, according to a police press release.
Police were called to Waukesha North High School around 1 p.m. Monday for reports of a student with a gun, the release said. After the school was placed on lockdown, an investigation found the student was no longer on school property.
Police responded to the student’s home and found a replica of a firearm, police said.