Principal Killed by Shot in Struggle With Angry Student

Principal Killed by Shot in Struggle With Angry Student

The principal of a rural Wisconsin school was shot to death on Friday, on the eve of what was to have been a weekend of homecoming festivities, by a 15-year-old who was disciplined on Thursday for having tobacco in school, the authorities said.

After the shooting at Weston Schools, near Cazenovia, 50 miles northwest of Madison, the 15-year-old, Eric Hainstock, told investigators that a group of fellow students had been picking on him at the school, calling him sexually derogatory names, according to the criminal complaint filed against Mr. Hainstock.

The principal, John Klang, and teachers “would not do anything about the other students,” the teenager said, according to the complaint. “He decided to confront the students and teachers and principal with the guns to make them listen to him.”

Representatives from Weston Schools told investigators that Mr. Hainstock had received a written disciplinary notice from Mr. Klang on Thursday for having tobacco in the school and that he would probably be punished with an in-school suspension.

Just before classes were to begin on Friday, Mr. Hainstock walked in carrying a long-barrel shotgun, witnesses told the authorities. The witnesses said he called out something like: “I’ve got a gun! I’m not kidding, and this is real!”

A custodian immediately grabbed the shotgun, and Mr. Klang tackled Mr. Hainstock. As they struggled, the student pulled a handgun from his pants and shot the principal in the head, chest and leg, the authorities said. No one else was injured.

The principal was taken to University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, where he died after hours of surgery, said a spokeswoman for the hospital, Lisa Brunette.

Mr. Hainstock was charged as an adult with first-degree intentional homicide and held at the Sauk County Jail in Baraboo. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Another 15-year-old, who said he was a friend of Mr. Hainstock, told the authorities that on Wednesday his friend had hinted of the danger to come. Mr. Hainstock had said, “There was not going to be any homecoming this year,” the complaint said, “and that Mr. Klang was not going to make it through homecoming.”

Parents and other relatives of students described Mr. Klang as an active but soft-spoken presence in the small school from which he, his wife, Sue, and their three children graduated. He had been a member of the school board for 20 years before becoming athletic director for the school, which covers kindergarten through 12th grade. Two years ago, he became principal, Superintendent Terry Milfred said in a televised news conference before word of Mr. Klang’s death.

“He was not the kind of person who sits behind a desk,” Mr. Milfred said as he read from a prepared statement. “He was injured because he was trying to maintain control and protect the students and staff at Weston, all of whom are grateful and safe as a result of his efforts.”

Mr. Klang’s father, Don, told The Capital Times in Madison that his son had recently returned to teaching after running a 200-acre dairy farm for 16 years. In that time, he worked on and off as a substitute teacher.