ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Two students found with replica guns at Willmar Senior High on last day of school

Airsoft guns aren't real guns, but they can look like the real thing. A student was found to have carried an airsoft gun into the Willmar Senior High School Friday afternoon, the last day of school for the year. In a separate incident, another student had a splatball gun, which shoots small paintballs, in his possession in the school.

Tribune file photo Willmar Senior High School building
Willmar Senior High School building
West Central Tribune file photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — The school year came to an eventful end Friday at Willmar Senior High School.

Two 15-year-old male students were found to have brought non-lethal firearms into the school. The guns were found at nearly the same time Friday afternoon.

One boy had an airsoft replica gun that looked like a handgun, Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt said Tuesday. Airsoft guns shoot small pellets, but they can look like real firearms.

The second boy had a splatball gun that shoots mini paintballs, Felt said.

The two incidents did not seem to be related, he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Jeff.Holm
Jeff Holm, Willmar Superintendent
Contributed / Willmar Public Schools

Superintendent Jeff Holm said Tuesday the airsoft gun was reported at about 2:20 p.m. Friday. The Senior High normally releases classes at 2:45 p.m.

“People jumped into action,” Holm said in a phone interview.

The school resource officer, a Willmar Police Department officer stationed at the school, was contacted and investigated the report.

Felt said alert students saw what the boys had and told adults.

Both boys were released to their parents and were not charged, though charges may come later, Felt said.

According to a letter Principal Paul Schmitz sent to parents and families of students about the airsoft gun, the gun was not discharged and wasn’t used to threaten anyone. The situation was handled mostly after students had left for the day, Schmitz wrote.

“It’s something we just need to be constantly on our toes about it,” Holm said. “Safety is never far from my thoughts.”

The district is working on an update of its crisis plans this summer, he said. A group of school and law enforcement officials, joined by the district’s communications consultant, will update the plan, which addresses all sorts of situations, including storms, fires or violent incidents.

ADVERTISEMENT

Holm said he hopes to develop a stronger plan for reunifying children and parents after an emergency situation.

“There’s a feeling of vulnerability for schools,” he said.

“We keep our buildings locked,” he said, “but we have to look at the delicate balance to make sure everyone is completely safe, but we don’t want schools to look like armed fortresses.”

Schools still need to be seen as welcoming places for kids, he said.

More from Linda Vanderwerf
COVID-19 cases and deaths increased more slowly in the most recent Minnesota Health Department update. An average of 600 people test positive — and six die — each day in Minnesota.
Willmar businessman and philanthropist Bob Dols, who died Feb. 2, worked for decades to complete a four-lane Highway 23 from Willmar to Interstate 94. That project is nearing completion.
Falling enrollment and the end of pandemic relief funds have resulted in a need for budget cuts at Willmar Public Schools. A community task force will have a hand in making the recommendations.
Retiring president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Ken Warner says he has enjoyed his time working for the Willmar business community.
The daily average of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota jumped from a 378-case daily average to 760 cases a day in one week. Deaths have also increased to a daily average of 11 deaths a day.
Retiring president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Ken Warner says he has enjoyed his time working for the Willmar business community.
COVID-19 isn't gone in Minnesota, but hospitalizations and deaths are lower in the latest state update. About 120 fewer people were in hospitals this week than in the week before.
The state reported an average of 500 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day last week and an average of nine deaths per day. The case average was lower, but the average daily deaths was higher.
Breaking News
Prosecution errors freed Thomas Rhodes from prison and overturned his murder convictions Friday. A memo found in the prosecution's files last year contributed to his release.
People who have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with symptoms should get tested for COVID-19. Minnesota is ready to send four free tests for anyone who wants them.

To try to help troubled young people, he said, the school district has used pandemic relief funds to add to its social work staff.

Holm said he doesn’t support arming teachers. “Our staff did not enter this line of work to be a substitute law enforcement officer,” he said.

He said he prefers the district’s contract with the Willmar Police Department to provide officers in the school who are trained to carry weapons.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
What To Read Next
Chippewa County Sheriff Derek Olson said two people were arrested after the Sheriff's Office assisted with executing a search warrant at a home in Clara City.
Amanda Lynn Todd, 37, of Willmar, was sentenced to 180 days in Kandiyohi County Jail with 90 days to be served immediately after her hearing in court Jan. 26.
Groups urging 'disco wall' at Lock and Dam 5 on Mississippi River to slow invasive carp before they can establish reproducing populations in Minnesota waters
Any resident or business in the state of Minnesota that does not have wired broadband internet service of at least 25 megabits per second downloading speed and 3 megabits per second for uploads is now eligible to apply for this program.