At approximately 11:15 a.m. MST, on Monday, Oct. 4, a Hettinger Public School student walked into a classroom and fired a single, self-inflicted, gunshot.
“... The individual stepped into a classroom and a single shot was fired — self-inflicted,” said Aaron Roseland, Adams County Sheriff’s Office public information officer and Adams County state’s attorney. “... Other than the trauma of being exposed to the situation, there were no threats made against any other faculty, students or staff.”
According to Roseland, the school immediately entered into a lockdown for all faculty, students and staff as they sheltered in place. An emergency call was placed to law enforcement, who arrived by 11:35 a.m. to the school.
“An alert was sent out over the school messaging system to parents, alerting them that an incident had occurred and that the children were sheltered in place,” Roseland explained.
Responding to the school were deputies with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, followed shortly thereafter by the West River Health Services Ambulance, Hettinger County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol and Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Law enforcement secured the perimeter of the building before entering and securing the entirety of the school.
According to Roseland, the incident resulted in no injuries to other students, faculty or staff. The student involved in the shooting was taken for emergency medical treatment and their status remains unknown, according to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency services began the process of safely removing students as parents and guardians were simultaneously being notified to pick up their children at 12:05 p.m.
“I am one of the parents,” Roseland said, with a deep sigh, “I was experiencing this along with everybody else and was instructed to please come to the school to pick up my children. All children were then accounted for by faculty and staff, and released to a parent or guardian by class, starting with kindergarten and working their way up to the seniors.”
The process of releasing the students to their parents or guardians was completed at around 1:30 p.m., as BCI officers were already on the scene and conducting their investigation.
Roseland said that due to the sensitive nature of the incident, the involvement of a minor and in respect to the families affected, no additional information would be released regarding the student.
Hettinger Public School announced that all school and sports activities have been cancelled for Tuesday, Oct. 5, and that counseling services have been retained and made available from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Centennial Chapel (Evanson-Jensen Funeral Chapel) — located across the street from Hettinger Public School.
“The focus is on: one, the family of the student and two, on the kids that are needing help,” Roseland said. “It's a very sensitive situation right now and we want to make sure to provide these kids with all the support they need.”
Classes have been announced to resume on Wednesday, Oct. 6, for those who feel comfortable attending, according to a public announcement released by the Hettinger Public School. Further counseling services will be made available as needed and updates will be provided at hettinger.k12.nd.us.
Roseland noted that BCI has assumed investigative lead on this incident.
“We are devastated down here… Our thoughts are not only with the students, but also with the family of the student,” he said, adding, “We're going to do what we can to try to heal the community.”