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Chief: 5 of 23 hostages released from Wis. high school

Nov. 29, 2010

MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) -- A student armed with a handgun burst into a high school classroom in eastern Wisconsin on Monday, taking nearly two dozen students and a teacher hostage at the end of the school day, authorities said. Five hostages were released by mid-evening.

A Marinette High School administrator called authorities after 3 p.m. to say a student had taken over a classroom, officials said. Police Chief Jeff Skorik said officials had been able to communicate by phone with the teacher inside and no injuries had been reported or shots fired.

Skorik said he did not know what led up to the five students being released about 8 p.m. but said the teacher still was acting as a mediator between the hostage-taker and authorities.

"There were five released and law enforcement will be interviewing those five to of course gather some more information," Skorik said at a hastily called news conference. "They'll be evaluated and if they need anything, provided services."

A SWAT team had arrived at the school Monday evening, city councilman Bradley Behrendt said from the scene about 50 miles north of Green Bay.

"I would say there's over 100 officers here, everyone from Marinette County, Green Bay ... It's very shocking. You've just got to hope and pray no one will be hurt," Behrendt said. "They just spent a whole bundle of money on classroom doors to make them secure, but they don't have metal detectors at the school."

The police chief said 23 students were initially held in the classroom along with the teacher. He said police knew the suspect's identity and investigators were interviewing his parents.

"We have no idea as far as motivations at this point," the chief said Monday evening.

Choral teacher Bonita Weydt said she was talking with a teacher in another classroom after school, which lets out about 3:10 p.m., when principal Corry Lambie came in.

"I said, 'Corry, what's going on?' and he said, 'Get out of the building,'" Weydt said.

Officials said parents were asked to gather at the county courthouse, where school officials and mental health counselors were meeting with families and reviewing a class roster.

Marinette, a town of about 12,000 people, sits on the border with Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The high school has an annual enrollment of approximately 800 students, according to its website.