School officials in Hastings are crediting an 8th-grade science teacher with a key role in averting what might have been a deadly shooting incident at a middle school yesterday.
Superintendent Tim Collins said an 8th grader pulled out a loaded handgun yesterday morning. Collins said Mike Rapatz, the science teacher, talked the boy into leaving the classroom without hurting anyone. Rapatz quickly alerted the school office, which locked down the school. Another staffer called police.
Authorities say the boy started roaming the halls, and at one point, pointed the gun at a staff member and shouted "bang."
But the boy found most of the school locked up. A number of students had gone into hiding. The boy later returned to Radetz's classroom, where the teacher again talked him into leaving.
"Mike was definitely crucial in the manner in which he handled it," Collins said. "It was not as stressful and traumatic as it might have been."
A Hastings police officer eventually confronted the boy, prompting him to flee the school. He is in custody in the Dakota County Juvenile Detention facility, and could be charged with multiple felonies.
Police chief Mike McMenomy said annual safety drills made a difference.
"I'm sure sometimes, when they practice, they think it's a waste of time," McMenomy said. "But I think yesterday was a good example of "it worked."