It Can’t Happen Here, Until It Does, Mt. Horeb. But The Press and Police Have To Get Their ‘Stuff’ Together

On Wednesday May 1, 2024, an emergency call to 911 in Mount Horeb WI reported someone near the middle school wearing what was described as a back pack and a long gun. Responding police found a suspect fitting the description and he was shot and killed outside the school. No One in the school was injured. Everyone seems to be in agreement at this point but then it gets hazy and news stories are incomplete and the police actions may have been heavy handed.

First, the suspect was apparently a 14 year old male student at Mount Horeb Middle School. As far as I can see his name hasn’t officially been released although the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel released a name from anonymous sources who weren’t permitted to release the information, so I won’t repeat it here. But it is now Sunday May 5th…shouldn’t that information be available in the media by now?

Second, most of the stories describe the deceased as a shooter. From what I’ve read he did point the item he was carrying at police and they responded by killing him or neutralized him as reported in the press. I have not seen any reports that the deceased actually fired a weapon. Why is shooter being used to describe him?

Third, the weapon has now been reported as a pellet gun. And when told to drop it, the deceased refused to do so and apparently aimed it at police. And of course law enforcement couldn’t necessarily discern that his weapon wasn’t a fire arm (although I do question that a bit) but they should have recognized his youth. Out in the open with no other civilians reportedly in the area, was deadly force really the first resort for the police? And where did any of their bullets that missed their mark end up? Did their actions put third parties at risk?

Fourth, the press is also is calling this a school shooting. That stirs up thoughts of Columbine, Uvalde, or Sandy Hook. Although we will never know the intent of the deceased, is this a school shooting??

Fifth, and this one is scary. Students, teachers, and administrators inside the school didn’t take defensive action until they heard shots fired outside. As we know now, those shots came from law enforcement and not from anyone else. WHY was the school not notified that police were in response to a suspect with a weapon outside the school before they shot and killed him? Luckily no stray rounds hurt anyone inside. Luckily the suspect didn’t enter the school and so far there are no reports that he actually attempted to do so. But why wasn’t the school system notified??

There are a lot of unanswered question around this incident and how it is being reported. And right now, there isn’t much to learn from the media.

Well, except for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s article reprinted from their sister paper in Green Bay, about the lasting trauma that students and citizens will suffer following this event and then a feature story: Guns and mental health will be on focus of free event May 16.

We need to do better.


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