Authorities Praise Teacher’s Handling of Wisconsin Hostage Crisis

Marinette High School Principal Corry Lambie spoke out on Nov. 30, praising the actions of teacher Valerie Burd during a recent hostage situation in her classroom. Burd kept 15-year-old student gunman Samuel Hengel calm by urging his classmates to engage him in conversation about the outdoors and his family, ABC News reports. She also stayed on the phone with police on behalf of Hengel, who refused to speak with law enforcement personnel. Lambie and Marinette School Superintendent Tim Baneck credit Burd with saving the lives of the two-dozen student hostages.

Approximately 100 emergency responders were on the scene during the incident, in which Hengel, a sophomore, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  

Marinette County Emergency Management director Eric Burmeister told ABC WBAY that police were well-equipped to handle the situation because the department had participated in a mock hostage drill in the same area of the school the previous year. Responders will be receiving a stress debriefing this week.

The incident started between 1:30 and 2 p.m. local time on Nov. 29, when Hengel asked to leave his sixth period Western Civilization class to use the restroom. When he returned, he was carrying a .22 caliber semiautomatic weapon, a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a duffel bag filled with ammunition, the Journal Sentinel reports. Hengel fired several shots into the classroom projector.

Around 8 p.m., officers entered the classroom. Hengel shot himself and was in grave condition, according to CBS News. He was transported from Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Green Bay where he died the next morning.

All 25 hostages – 24 students and a teacher – were released at approximately 8:15 p.m. on Nov 29, according to the Marinette County Sheriff’s Department.

Students say the gunman did not seem to want to hurt anyone, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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