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 Gun-toting student frees 5 of 24 hostages at Wisconsin high school

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PostSubject: Gun-toting student frees 5 of 24 hostages at Wisconsin high school   Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:25 pm

(CNN) -- A handgun-toting student released five hostages Monday night, but still held 18 and a female teacher inside a room at a northeast Wisconsin high school, police said.

The young male took over the classroom sometime near the end of the school day Monday, preventing anyone from leaving and eventually communicating with police through a teacher, Marinette Police Chief Jeffrey Skorik told reporters.
The chief announced shortly before 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET) Monday, with word that five hostages had been released.
Refuting rumors circulating on social media sites, Skorik said authorities did not believe anyone had been hurt thus far at Marinette High School or that any shots had been fired.

The chief said that the student had no previous run-ins with the law, adding that it wasn't clear why he took hostages.
The incident riled residents of the Wisconsin city of about 11,600 residents, which borders Lake Michigan.
A school administrator called police at 3:48 p.m. (4:48 p.m. ET) Monday, after most students had left for the day, reporting that an armed student had gone into a classroom and taken those inside hostage.

Bradley Behrendt, a city councilor, told CNN that he was two blocks from the school when about 15 police squad cars pull up and several officers come out, with their vests on and holding guns as they entered the school.
"They were just going like crazy," Behrendt said of the police response.

By about 7 p.m., about 40 law enforcement personnel had converged on the scene, according to Skorik, with more coming throughout the night.

They included hostage negotiators who set up inside the school, according to Skorik. They had not talked directly with the student some three hours into the incident, but did get regular updates from the teacher.

Skorik said that the hostage-taker is a student at Marinette High, and that he believed -- though he could not confirm -- was assigned to the class that he took over.

Police know the identity of the student, though they haven't name him publicly, and have talked with his family members. Skorik said law enforcement believe the the young male, armed with a single handgun, is acting alone.

Several hundred people gathered about a half-mile from the school, said Behrendt, but they were restricted by police from going any closer.

"We're just holding stand-pat," Scott VandeHei, Marinette's school board chairman, told CNN affiliate WBAY. "We're feeling pretty helpless."

Law enforcement urged parents who didn't know their children's whereabouts to go to the Marinette County Courthouse, where they could see those on the affected class's roster, talk with police and get help from mental-health counselors.

"Let's keep our thoughts and prayers with the parents," Marinette school Superintendent Tim Baneck said.
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