Wisconsin School Shooter Claims Principal’s Death Accidental

BARABOO, Wis. – Sixteen-year-old Eric Hainstock testified on Aug. 1 that he never intended to kill his school principal, who died last September when Hainstock fired three bullets into his body.

On Sep. 29, Hainstock took his father’s shotgun and .22-caliber revolver and loaded them. When he walked into the entrance of his high school, he ordered everyone into an office before a janitor tore the shotgun from his hands. Hainstock then pulled out a revolver, cocked it, and told Weston Schools Principal John Klang to go into the office to talk. When he turned his back, Klang wrapped him in a bear hug and attempted to wrestle the gun away from him. Hainstock fired three shots into the principal before other staff managed to subdue him. Klang later died of his injuries in a hospital in Madison.

Hainstock is currently charged with first-degree murder, which could end with life in prison. In order to convict him, prosecutors must prove that the former freshman intended to kill the principal the moment he pulled the trigger. Hainstock claims the first shot was an accident, and he wanted the second shot to go into Klang’s arm so he would let go.

Sauk County District Attorney Pat Barrett claims Hainstock was a bully. At his trial, she cited numerous incidents of verbal and physical abuse, which Hainstock did not deny.

Defense attorney Jon Helland claims Hainstock was victim of abuse at home and at school, where other students stuck his head in a toilet, stuffed him in lockers and called him names. Hainstock and one of his friends allegedly complained to the principal 20 or 30 times during middle school, but nothing changed. His defense maintains he brought loaded weapons only to make people listen to him.

Helland said he plans to ask the jury to convict the boy of the lesser charge of reckless homicide. The lawyers are expected to give closing arguments on Aug. 2.

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