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Police: 5 students had plans to kill teachers, peers

by Jill Tatge

Burlington Bureau

photo by Mark Hertzberg

BURLINGTON Five male Burlington High School students, ages 15 and 16, allegedly planned to gun down teachers and students today at school in a plot city police learned of Sunday, Police Detective Mike Wiskas said.

“We received information that five youths were going to come to school on Monday armed with guns and shoot a number of specific teachers and students," Wiskas said late Sunday.

Three of the youths were taken into custody, Wiskas said. The other two will be referred to the District Attorney's office for possible charges, he said.

Two of the five are city of Burlington residents and three are from the town of Burlington, Wiskas said.

Two of the five already are on supervision for previous criminal offenses, Wiskas said.

None of the weapons allegedly to have been used in today's shooting were confiscated nor found, Wiskas said.

“There will be no extra patrol at the school (today)," Wiskas said. “We feel that we got the main actors."

The police liaison officer assigned to the school will be on duty as normal.

Once police learned of the alleged plot, a meeting to discuss how to proceed was called for Sunday at noon involving Burlington High School Principal Jose Martinez, Assistant Principal Richard Petersen and the assistant chief of police.

Wiskas said officials contacted the families of the five boys allegedly involved. The parents located their children and brought them into the police department.

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All five students gave statements detailing their participation in the alleged plot and the reasons why, Wiskas said. Those statements were not released Sunday night.

“We were really fortunate that we got this infortion when we did and that we were able to successfully intervene," Martinez said Sunday night. “School will be open (today), and it is safe."

Martinez said he and some of the involved police officers are parents of Burlington High School students and were not taking the tip lightly.

This is something that can happen anywhere and at any time, Martinez said, adding Burlington is not immune.

During the past year, there were at least three fatal shootings at schools across the nation, shots were fired at one Wisconsin middle school and a gun was found outside another Wisconsin school.

In Edinboro, Pa., a 14-year-old was accused of shooting a science teacher. In Jonesboro, Ark., Mitchell Johnson, now 14, and Andrew Golden, 12, have been convicted for a March 24 ambush that left four schoolmates and a teacher dead. In Springfield, Ore., 15-year-old Kip Kinkel allegedly opened fire in May in his school's cafeteria, killing two students and injuring 22 others.

A 14-year-old Oakfield student drove up to his middle school while classes where in session March 30, fired five shots into the front door and fled, authorities said. The student told police he was stressed out and upset over his grades.

Also in March, someone left a rifle outside the Tri-County Area School in Plainfield. The weapon was not loaded and no ammunition was found with it, police reports said. While school officials did not know the meaning of the gun being left outside the school, they said, “We are treating it very seriously."

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