US teen hostage taker shoots himself

2010-11-30 08:46

Chicago - A 15-year-old youth took 23 students and a teacher hostage at a high school in a small Wisconsin town before turning the gun on himself, police said.

The youth was hospitalised with a gunshot wound, with no immediate word on his condition, but the captives were unharmed, according to officials in Marinette, Wisconsin, where the drama unfolded on Monday.

Marinette police chief Jeff Skorik said earlier reports on social network sites that students had been injured in the attack were incorrect.

Skorik told a late night press conference the student who had held the hostages shot himself as police approached him after officers had heard three gunshots go off in the classroom.

The male gunman, who was not identified, was transported to a local hospital where his condition or the nature of the injuries was not known late on Monday.

The drama came to an end moments after the gunman had released five students to allow them to use the washrooms.

After hearing gunfire, officers who had been in dialogue with the teacher, immediately entered the room, and saw the boy shoot himself.

"The officers breached the door, entered the classroom and saw the suspect in front of the classroom," Skorik said. "At that time the suspect fired one shot, injured himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound." Skorik did not say where he was shot.

Motive unclear

The hostage-taker, an unidentified student, entered the classroom toward the end of the school day, around.

Police had been hoping to resolve the drama without violence. "The game plan all along was to have the situation end peacefully," Skorik said.

The youth, a student at Marinette High School, had entered the classroom with two handguns, a .22 calibre semi-automatic and a 9mm pistol. Cartridge casings found on the scene revealed both weapons had been used, he added.

The motive for the situation remained unclear according to Skorik, who noted the student was not known to local police.

The high school will be closed until further notice and grief counsellors will be on hand once the decision is made to reopen, said Superintendent Timothy Baneck.

The district had held a drill last fall to practise what to do if a shooter had entered the school, he added.

Marinette is approximately 80km north of the city of Green Bay. The school has approximately 700 students.

Police had earlier said there were 20 students and one teacher hostage.

- SAPA

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