Officer Shoots Waukesha High School Student Armed With Pellet Gun

Dec 2, 2019

Updated Tuesday at 4:17 p.m. CT

A 17-year-old Waukesha South High School student was shot by a police officer on Monday morning after allegedly aiming a pellet gun at police. 

Police say the student first pointed the pellet gun at another student's head in a classroom. A school resource officer and other law enforcement were told about the armed student, and responded to the classroom. When the police arrived and tried to de-escalate the situation, the student allegedly pointed the pellet gun at them. Sgt. Brady Esser, an 11-year veteran of the Waukesha Police Department, shot the student three times, in the arm and the leg.

“An officer was forced to discharge his firearm, striking the suspect,” Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said at a press conference. “Officers immediately provided life-saving medical attention. The remaining students were evacuated from the classroom and a firearm was recovered.”

A picture of one of the pellet guns recovered by Waukesha Police. Police say the suspect had another pellet gun in his backpack.
Credit Waukesha Police Department

Jack said the suspect was transported to a hospital, where he is in stable condition. No one else was injured.  

Another pellet gun was found in the student's backpack, police say. Police Captain Dan Baumann said the suspect apparently brought the weapon to school because he was angry at another student. 

Police vehicles and an ambulance outside of Waukesha South High School after shots were fired on Monday morning.
Credit Courtesy of The Waukesha Freeman

South High School students were kept in locked classrooms until about 11:15 a.m., when they were released to their families. Nearby Whittier Elementary School was also under lockdown after the incident.

The Greenfield Police Department will take the lead in an investigation into whether the officer-involved shooting complied with the law.

Waukesha Superintendent Todd Gray said the incident was “clearly a superintendent’s worst nightmare.” He thanked the school resource officer and other law enforcement for their handling of the situation. Gray said additional emotional support would be available for students as they returned to school Tuesday.  

On Monday afternoon, there was another scare — this time at Waukesha North High School. The school was locked down after a report of a student with a firearm. Police say the student was located at a residence and taken into custody. The two incidents are not connected, according to law enforcement. 

Gov. Tony Evers released a statement calling on Wisconsinites to support the Waukesha community in healing after the traumatic day. 

"Today is a grim reminder that this can happen anywhere," Evers said. "But I do not accept — nor should we accept — that this is an inevitable reality for our kids, our communities, our state, or our country.”