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Active shooter ‘neutralized’ outside Wis. school, officials say

Though little information has been released, photos show more than a dozen law enforcement vehicles including SWAT-style trucks near Mount Horeb Middle School

Shooter Wisconsin School

Law enforcement personnel respond to a report of a person armed with a rifle at Mount Horeb Middle School in Mount Horeb, Wis., Wednesday, May 1, 2024. The school district said a person it described as an active shooter was outside a middle school in Mount Horeb on Wednesday but the threat was “neutralized” and no one inside the building was injured. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

John Hart/AP

By Todd Richmond
Associated Press

MOUNT HOREB, Wis. — Witnesses described children fleeing amid the sound of gunshots near a Wisconsin middle school where authorities said an active shooter was “neutralized” outside the building Wednesday. There were no reported injuries to those inside the school.

Authorities in Mount Horeb said without giving details that the “alleged assailant” was harmed, and a witness said she heard gunshots and saw dozens of children running.

Police from multiple agencies patrolled with rifles around the middle school Wednesday afternoon. Photos by the Wisconsin State Journal showed more than a dozen law enforcement vehicles including SWAT-style trucks near Mount Horeb Middle School with emergency lights flashing. First responders surrounding a gurney on the sidewalk also were visible.

The district said in several posts on Facebook beginning around 11:30 a.m. that students at all of the district’s schools were on lockdown and family members were told not to come to any schools.

“An initial search of the middle school has not yielded additional suspects,” a post around noon said. “As importantly, we have no reports of individuals being harmed, with the exception of the alleged assailant.”

In an earlier post, the district said “the threat has been neutralized outside of the building.”

Jeanne Keller was in her shop The Quilting Jeanne located down the block from the campus that includes the middle school and another school building when she heard about five gunshots.

“It was maybe like pow-pow-pow-pow,” Keller told The Associated Press by phone. “I thought it was fireworks. I went outside and saw all the children running ... I probably saw 200 children.”

The posts by the district did not provide any details about what had happened at the school in Mount Horeb, a southwestern Wisconsin city some 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the state capital of Madison.

Police in Mount Horeb said they could not immediately provide information. A person who answered the phone at the school district office declined comment.

The Dane County Sheriff’s office directed media to a staging area but had not provided updates several hours after the school district first alerted families about the incident.

Shannon Hurd, 44, and her former husband, Nathian Hurd, 39, sat in a car waiting to be reunited with their 13-year-old son, Noah, who was still in the locked-down school.

Shannon Hurd said she was alerted to the incident by a text from Noah saying he loved her. She said she nearly fell down the stairs at her work as she ran to get to the school.

“I just want my kid,” she said. “They’re supposed to be safe at school, in Mount Horeb of all places.”

The district had begun releasing some students of other schools by early afternoon and anxious parents gathered at a bus depot waiting to be reunited with their kids.

Stacy Smith, 42, was at the bank Wednesday when she saw “20 to 30 cop cars” go by and soon got a text from the school district warning of an active shooter.

She initially could not reach her two children — junior Abbi and seventh-grader Cole.

She finally reached Abbi by phone but the girl whispered that she was hiding in a closet and couldn’t talk. She eventually connected with both children and learned they were OK.

“Not here,” she said in disbelief. “You hear about this everywhere else but not here.”

Heidy Lange, owner of Firefly Events Decor & Flowers, said she was in her florist shop about two blocks from the middle school when she looked out and saw kids running and “probably 50 cop cars from everywhere.”

“All of a sudden there was a whole bunch of parents running behind them,” Lange said. “All our phones were beeping with all the alerts. It would devastate the town if something happened to a child here.”

The district said in Facebook posts that it was preparing buses to transport students from schools to a place where families could reunite with their children.

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Associated Press reporters Corey Williams in Detroit and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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