(head shot of Mc Dowell ran with story)
WAUWATOSA - A 21-year-old man arrested Thursday in the shooting death of an associate principal at a west suburban Milwaukee high school is a former student with a record of trouble at the school and run-ins with the administrator, authorities said.
Meanwhile, students and teachers gathered Thursday at Wauwatosa West High School to remember Dale Breitlow, described by one student as "everybody's dad."
Breitlow, 46, was shot three times Wednesday in a school hallway. Students said they heard a confrontation before shots rang out.
On Thursday morning, police arrested Leonard D. McDowell a short distance from his home a block from the school. McDowell was held without charges Thursday.
Police and school officials said McDowell had been arrested as a student for battery of a Wauwatosa West teacher in 1990. In the past year, he had been arrested for allegedly loitering on school property.
While a student, McDowell had disciplinary problems that Breitlow handled, said George A. Goens, superintendent of Wauwatosa schools. He didn't elaborate.
Police records show Breitlow called police to Wauwatosa West on March 1, 1991, because McDowell had showed up at the school after being ordered to leave.
McDowell graduated from Wauwatosa West in June 1991, according to school records.
Classes were canceled Thursday at Wauwatosa West, but teachers and counselors were made available for students who wanted to talk about the tragedy. Green ribbons, the school color, were tied around trees as students streamed in and out of the school.
"He was like everybody's dad," said Mellisa A. Verrier, a senior. "I think it's still a dream. I keep thinking I'll wake up tomorrow, come to school and he'll be yelling at me 'cause I got kicked out of a class or he'll be yelling at me to take my jacket off and go put it in my locker."
"He cared about everybody," said Becky A. Griebach, a junior. "He did everything he could to help whoever he could."
Griebach talked about hearing gunshots and screaming.
"There is no sense to it. Nobody had the right to take somebody's life," she said.
McDowell was arrested near his house Thursday morning. He was hiding in shrubbery and offered no resistance, said Police Chief Barry Weber.
Police officers equipped with metal detectors and rakes searched the area for a gun, which Weber said was a revolver. Some officers searched sewers in a two-block area. The gun hadn't been found, Weber said Thursday afternoon.
McDowell was interviewed by police Thursday. Weber declined to say what was learned in the interview.
Weber said McDowell was being taken from the police station to the Milwaukee County Jail, and the district attorney would review the case Friday and decide on possible charges.
McDowell was arrested Nov. 29, 1990, for battery to a female teacher at Wauwatosa West. McDowell grabbed the teacher by the head, kissed her cheek and then grabbed
her by the throat, according to police records. He was fined for battery and was taken for psychiatric observation to the Milwaukee County Medical Complex, records show.
He was arrested for loitering at Wauwatosa West in January of this year. A teacher told police she saw him walk face first into a classroom door. He was arrested and received a $265 ticket, which was later dismissed.
A police report about that incident said: "It appears that Leonard has a serious alcohol problem. His mother was encouraged to try and get him to seek treatment."
Heinz Mueller, who lived next door to McDowell, said McDowell lived with his mother. "He was disturbed or troubled," Mueller said. "The mother told us that he got into drinking. He always walked with his head down."