A 15-year-old Wisconsin high school sophomore has died today from a self-inflicted gunshot after police said he held a teacher and 23 classmates hostage for more than five hours. The student was identified as Samuel Hengel.
On Monday afternoon, police received a phone call from the principal of Marinette High School, in Marinette, Wisc., alerting authorities that a Western Civilization class were being held at gunpoint on the campus.
The class was watching a film about Greek myths when a male student left the classroom after asking to use the restroom. Police believe he then stopped by his locker and returned moments later with a duffle bag.
"I was watching the movie and he came in. I wasn't paying any attention to him and I just saw some of my classmates see the gun and then everything just got really serious," said student Austin Biehl in an interview on "Good Morning America" this morning.
He pulled out a gun and shot the movie projector and ordered classmates to hand over their cell phones, police said. He broke his own phone when it rang. The suspect, who has not been identified, was carrying two pistols as well as a knife, police said. Additional bullets for the two guns were in the backpack.
Hostages Released After Five Hours
At some point the school's principal went to the classroom only to have the 15-year-old turn his gun on the principal and order him to "Get out of here," Marinette Police Chief Jeff Skorik told reporters.
At 7:40 p.m. the suspect released five students who told him they had to use the bathroom.
One of the hostages, Zach Campbell, told the Associated Press that the class tried to keep the gunman calm by talking about fishing and hunting.
"We just wanted to be on his good side," Campbell said.
Motive Unknown, Suspect Described as 'Well Liked'
Police recovered shell casings from a .22-caliber semiautomatic and a 9mm pistol from the scene.
"The shots were fired into walls, into some objects inside of the classroom. That information will be fleshed out in the hours and days to come, there's still a crime scene analyst there processing the scene," said Skorik.
The gunman's motive was unknown.