CAZENOVIA, Wis. — A student charged in the shooting death of his school principal was a normal teenager but often bragged about getting into trouble, a neighbor said Saturday as this tiny farm town struggled to come to terms with the attack.
Eric Hainstock, 15, told police he gunned down Weston Schools Principal John Klang before classes began Friday because he was upset with a reprimand Klang had given him, according to a criminal complaint charging him with first-degree intentional homicide. The teen was also upset because he felt teachers didn’t intervene to stop students who harassed him, the complaint said.
The high school was quiet and empty Saturday under gloomy skies. Students had taped two signs flanking the main entrance that read, “In our hearts forever remembered” and “In our hearts and prayers.”
Klang was shot just inside that entrance, a day after the principal gave Hainstock a disciplinary warning for having tobacco, according to the complaint.
Alan Hahn, 50, said Saturday he has known the Hainstocks for nearly a decade, and sometimes gave Eric a ride home from school.
‘He was a little wild’
He said the teen enjoyed demolition derbies, racing a remote-control car on the country roads around his home and visiting his grandparents.
“He was a little wild,” Hahn said. “He liked to show off. He always talked about how he got in trouble at school.”
Charged as an adult
No one answered the door Saturday morning at Hainstock’s house, a gray, two-story A-frame in the countryside several miles from Weston High School. A man who answered the door at the grandparents’ home declined comment.
Hainstock was arrested and charged as an adult with murder, Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett said Friday. He could get life in prison if convicted.
Detectives executed a search warrant at Hainstock’s house late Friday, the sheriff said. The teen was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Monday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.
Hainstock had pried open his family’s gun cabinet, took out a shotgun, retrieved the key to his parents’ locked bedroom and took a .22-caliber revolver, according to the complaint.
He entered the school with the shotgun before classes began and pointed the gun at a social studies teacher, but Thompson wrested it from the teen, the complaint said. When Hainstock reached for the handgun, Thompson and the teacher ran for cover.
Principal said to wrestle away guns
Klang then went into the hallway and confronted Hainstock. A teacher said that after the shots were fired, Klang, already wounded, wrestled the shooter to the ground and swept away the gun, the complaint said. Students and staff detained Hainstock until police arrived, Barrett said.
No one else was injured. Klang was shot in the head, chest and leg, and died hours later at a hospital in Madison, authorities said. Results of an autopsy scheduled for Saturday were not immediately available.
School officials said Klang had given Hainstock a disciplinary notice Thursday for bringing tobacco to school, and the student faced a likely in-school suspension, the complaint said.
Hainstock told investigators a group of kids had called him names and harassed him, and he felt teachers and the principal would not do anything about it, according to the complaint.
It also said Hainstock had told a friend a few days earlier that Klang would not “make it through homecoming,” referring to festivities planned for the school’s homecoming weekend.
After the shooting, Weston’s football game, dance and parade were canceled or postponed, and crisis counselors were brought in for students.
Children from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade attend the small school near Cazenovia, a community of about 300 people about 70 miles northwest of Madison.
The shooting took place two days after a gunman took six students hostage in a Colorado high school and killed one before shooting himself.
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