School Shooting Strikes Wis. School

A ninth-grader shot his principal three times in a rural school just before classes were to start Friday, after a custodian wrested from the boy one of the two weapons he had carried into the building, the sheriff said. No one else was hurt.

The custodian took a shotgun from the 15-year-old before the student shot Weston Schools Principal John Klang with a handgun in the hallway near the school's main entrance, Sauk County Sheriff Randy Stammen said. The student was in custody, he said.

Klang was in critical condition when he was taken by helicopter from Reedsburg Area Medical Center to UW Hospitals in Madison, hospital spokespeople said.

Authorities did not know the student's motive and did not know if Klang was the intended target, Stammen said.

The student walked into the school about 8 a.m. and shot Klang three times as the principal approached and others tried to disarm the teenager, Stammen said.

Junior Timmy Donovan saw the student walk into the school with a shotgun.

"The janitor grabbed it away from him," Donovan said. "And as he was walking away he pulled a .22 pistol out of his pants, and then started shooting the principal. And at that point, I guess the principal ran and tackled him to the ground, and then he had other teachers going over and helping him."

Children from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade attend the small school near Cazenovia, a community of about 300 people about 60 miles northwest of Madison.

Sophomore Shelly Rupp said she heard five shots and ran out of the school, but turned around and saw Klang as he was shot.

"He was laying on the ground in the hallway," the 16-year-old said at a nearby gas station where students and townspeople gathered following the shooting. "He had just a pile of blood by his leg."

Rupp described the shooter as a freshman with few friends and said he was "just weird in the head."

"He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids," she said.

Investigators were interviewing witnesses, but other high school students were brought into the elementary school gym to talk to counselors if they wanted, authorities said. Younger students were bused home.

The shooting took place two days after a gunman took six students hostage in a Colorado high school and killed one before shooting himself.

School officials said Klang has more than 20 years of experience with the district, beginning as a school board member, and described him as kind, compassionate and soft-spoken.

Rupp called Klang a good principal who always listened to his students. Resident Laurie Rhea, 42, said Klang had spent last weekend at the gas station washing cars for a homecoming fundraiser.

"It's horrible. All the kids just loved him," she said.

The shooting happened as the school was preparing for homecoming weekend. School officials said all homecoming activities, including a parade, a football game and dance, have been canceled or postponed.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.