School shooter's motive puzzles Wis. community

MARINETTE, Wis. —By all accounts, Samuel Hengel was a nice kid.

Good student, loved to hunt and fish, well-liked, a Boy Scout, even-keeled, plenty of friends, loving family.

What motivated the 15-year-old sophomore to bring two semiautomatic handguns and a duffel bag filled with ammunition and a knife to his sixth-hour social studies class, hold his classmates and teacher hostage for about six hours and then shoot himself in the head will likely remain a mystery.

Hengel died Tuesday morning at a Green Bay, Wis., hospital without revealing a motive.

"We may never truly know why this happened," Marinette County District Attorney Allen Brey said.

On Tuesday authorities revealed more details about what went on inside the basement classroom after a couple dozen students gathered for Valerie Burd's sixth-hour class. Sometime after the 1:30 p.m. class started, Hengel asked to go to the bathroom.

He returned carrying a duffel bag. Inside were two semiautomatic handguns. He fired two or three shots, including a shot into a video projector. Then Hengel collected everyone's cell phones.

After talking to a parent who was trying to contact his child in the classroom, Principal Corry Lambie walked to Burd's class and used his key to open the locked door. Lambie looked into the darkened classroom, saw Hengel in the front of the class and the students and Burd sitting at their desks.

"I took a couple steps in. The student threatened me with the gun and told me to step back and leave the classroom. At which point I stepped back. He told me again to get back, get out of the room and I shut the door," Lambie said.

Students said Hengel was mostly calm and talked with them, at times joking and bantering, and they told investigators they didn't feel threatened by him.

"No demands, no requests made. At times (Hengel) was described as quiet and solemn," Marinette Police Chief Jeff Skorik said. "We always hope we can resolve the situation without any injuries but it's difficult when you can't talk to the suspect."

Hengel's parents cooperated with police. Skorik said there were no incidents, no reports of bullying, no apparent stress in Hengel's life, nothing that "may have been his trigger."

Hengel volunteered for community service projects and had plenty of friends, a strong family and the respect of adults who knew him, said Henry Johnston, an assistant scoutmaster with Hengel's troop.

Johnston said he saw no signs that Hengel was upset or depressed.

"It doesn't fit any of the stereotypes," Johnston said. "He wasn't an outsider."