Willmar Middle School student claims to have gun, a search finds it was a toy

Willmar Middle School leaders found a toy gun when they investigated a report of a student with a weapon and who threatened to use it. School officials praised the students who reported the threat.

The front of Willmar Middle School.<br/>Contributed / Willmar Public Schools

WILLMAR — A Willmar Middle School student was found to have a toy gun in their possession Wednesday morning.

The student told other students they had a weapon and threatened to use it at school, Superintendent Jeff Holm said in an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon.

The other students alerted administrators who investigated and found that the student had a toy gun.

“We take this situation very seriously and will issue the appropriate disciplinary action, per district policy,” Holm said in the statement. “Because this situation involves a student, we cannot share further details at this time.”

Holm thanked the students who reported the potential threat.


“Students are encouraged to speak with a teacher or staff member right away if they find themselves in a similar situation in the future,” he said in the statement.

In an interview later, Holm said, “I’m confident everything was handled well by the staff and administration, and I’m just glad everyone is safe.”

He’s also glad the kids at the Middle School knew what to do when they heard talk of a weapon.

Jeff Holm, Willmar Superintendent
Contributed / Willmar Public Schools

“That’s a big key to school safety is having people say something if they suspect any kind of violent behavior is likely to happen,” Holm said. “Many times when the worst happens, the people who engage in those horrible acts have made their plans known, and people maybe have chosen not to take action."

The school district keeps reviewing its processes and response plans, he said. This summer, administrators plan to undergo training in a different emergency response system, to decide if it would be a good fit for Willmar’s schools.

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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: or phone 320-214-4340
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