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Mourners gather for Wis. hostage taker’s funeral
MENOMINEE, Mich. (AP) — Photographs of a happy teen who camped, canoed and fished greeted mourners as they gathered Sunday for the funeral of a 15-year-old Wisconsin boy who held his social studies class hostage before shooting himself. None of the hostages were injured.
The stage in a school auditorium in Menominee, Mich., where the funeral was to be held Sunday afternoon, was decorated with a tent and canoe. Menominee is just across the river from Marinette, Wis., where Sam Hengel held 26 classmates and his teacher hostage for six hours Monday.
The youth’s Boy Scout and tae kwon do uniforms also decorated the stage, along with martial arts trophies and a Green Bay Packers jersey bearing A.J. Hawk’s No. 50. A slide show showing the teen hiking in the woods with his family played before the funeral started.
Why Sam took his class hostage remains a mystery. Other students and his teacher have said he was well-liked and had many friends.
The standoff began Monday afternoon when Sam returned to his sixth-hour western civilization class from a bathroom break. He had two semiautomatic pistols and a backpack jammed with more than 200 rounds of ammunition and a pair of knives.
Students and police said he immediately fired three shots, blasting a hole in a wall and tearing apart a film projector. Students talked to him about everything from hunting and fishing to his favorite movies in an attempt to keep him calm.
No one else in the school apparently recognized the sound of the shots as gunfire, and the teen told the teacher to post a note on the door telling seventh-period students to report to the library. As a result, no one realized the class was in danger until about a half-hour after school ended, when a man came to the school office looking for his daughter.
Principal Corry Lambie determined the last class the girl attended was western civilization and went to the room to find the door locked. When Mr. Lambie unlocked the door, Sam pointed his gun at him and told him to leave. The youth allowed the girl to go with Mr. Lambie.
The standoff dragged on for four more hours, with teacher Valerie Burd acting as a go-between for Sam and police.
A SWAT team stormed the room after Sam fired three shots about 8 p.m., destroying the classroom phone and hitting a computer. He shot himself as officers reached him.
He died Tuesday morning.
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