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Paynesville High School student arrested for threatening to shoot staff, students at central Minnesota school

Matthew Paul Herr-Ramirez was arrested Monday at his home in Grove City after he had allegedly told other students at Paynesville Area High School his plans about carrying out a school shooting. According to the criminal complaint, Herr-Ramirez allegedly identified three staff members and a student as potential targets, and told a witness that he would continue shooting random students and staff.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated since original publication to add comments from the Paynesville Area School District superintendent.

PAYNESVILLE — Law enforcement officers arrested an 18-year-old Paynesville Area High School student who allegedly talked about “shooting up” the school and named three staff members and a student as alleged targets.

Matthew Paul Herr-Ramirez was arrested Monday at his home in Grove City, according to the criminal complaint filed in Stearns County District Court. He is charged with five counts of felony threats of violence.

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Matthew Paul Herr-Ramirez
Contributed / Stearns County Sheriff's Office.

He made his first court appearance Wednesday morning. He was assigned a public defender, and his next appearance is an omnibus hearing scheduled for Nov. 2.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Herr-Ramirez remained in custody in the Stearns County Jail on $200,000 bail without conditions and $100,000 bail with conditions, including staying a reasonable distance from the school.

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According to the criminal complaint, Paynesville police officers responded Monday evening to a complaint of a threat made earlier in the day at Paynesville High School.

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Officers spoke with several students who heard the suspect make threats about shooting people at school, according to the criminal complaint, and interviewed three teenage witnesses who reported that Herr-Ramirez had talked about individuals he was going to shoot at school and when he was going to do it. He had also made threats on Oct. 14, according to the complaint.

Two of the witnesses told law enforcement that Herr-Ramirez also allegedly showed them and others pictures of a pistol on his cellphone and named two staff members he wanted to shoot. The other witness also alleged that Herr-Ramirez said he would continue shooting random students and staff after shooting the individuals he specifically named.

According to the complaint, when law enforcement arrested Herr-Ramirez, an airsoft gun — a type of pellet gun — was located on his person.

Paynesville Area School District Superintendent Janell Bullard told the West Central Tribune in a phone call Wednesday afternoon that the Paynesville Schools community has been informed of the recent situation and that resources have been made available to anyone who needs them.

"The well-being of all of the students and staff at Paynesville Area Schools remains of utmost importance and is our primary concern," Bullard said.

"We are extremely proud of our students, teachers and staff members' response during the recent situation. We are grateful to all that report any situation of concern," she said.

West Central Tribune Editor Kelly Boldan contributed to this story.

Dale Morin is a reporter with the West Central Tribune. He covers public safety and breaking news beats.

Dale can be reached at dmorin@wctrib.com or by phone 320-214-4368.
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