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A.K.A.: "The Weston High School shooter"
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (15) - School shooting
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 29, 2006
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: April 4, 1991
Victim profile: John Alfred Klang (the school's principal)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Sauk County, Wisconsin, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years on August 2, 2007

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The Weston High School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on September 29, 2006 in Weston High School in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, United States. The gunman, 15-year-old Eric Hainstock, that day entered the school's main hallway and fatally shot principal John Klang. He is serving a life sentence.

It occurred only two days after the Platte Canyon High School shooting in Colorado, and only 3 days before the Amish School Shooting in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.


Eric Hainstock, a ninth-grader at the school, entered the school with a handgun and a shotgun, both owned by his parents. After arriving at school at approximately 8:00 a.m., he aimed the shotgun at a teacher, then wrestled from him by the custodian. A struggle ensued, and the shotgun was taken away. Still armed with the handgun, Hainstock sought out and confronted the school's principal, John Alfred Klang. Klang attempted to subdue Hainstock; in response, Hainstock shot Klang several times. Klang then managed to sweep away the gun and wrestle Hainstock to the ground, where others helped to hold him down. Staff and students apprehended Hainstock, holding him until the police arrived.

Klang was treated at Reedsburg Area Medical Center where he underwent surgery, and was then flown to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, where he died shortly after 3 p.m. Klang was the only one shot in the shooting. For his actions in wrestling away the gun and subduing Hainstock, Klang was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund.


The perpetrator of the shooting was 15-year-old Eric Hainstock, a freshman at Weston High School. Hainstock lived with his father and stepmother in a two-story A-Frame farm house about four miles northwest of Cazenovia in La Valle located on a hill surrounded by farm land.

Eric Hainstock was born on April 4, 1991 in La Crosse, Wisconsin to Shawn Hainstock and Lisa Marie Buttke. His parents divorced when he was two years old, and in December 1995 went to court to seek custody of Eric. When Hainstock was nine, his mother's parental rights were terminated by court-order after she failed to pay child support.

His father remarried and Eric was adopted by his stepmother. Hainstock's father was unemployed and received disability pensions. In September 2001, the Sauk County Department of Children and Families were called to the residence after he had allegedly kicked his son. By court-order, Eric was forced to live with his paternal grandmother, before he returned to his father's care in April 2002. In a letter he submitted to Madison based newspaper Isthmus, Eric claimed he was treated like a slave by his father, having to do all of the cleaning, even having to clean past midnight. He claimed to have been severely disciplined by his father. He claimed that his father would make him stand in his bedroom corner with his nose touching a wall and holding one of his legs in the air for long periods.

At Weston High School, Eric claimed that about 25 to 30 students bullied him. When he complained to the faculty at the school, Eric claims that nothing was done to prevent the bullying. In early 2006, Hainstock had started his fifth year at Weston High School where he had transferred in 6th grade, after having behavior problems and relatively poor test scores at his previous school. On one occasion shortly before the shooting, Eric and his stepmother were involved in a physical confrontation and Eric was left with human bite marks on him. After Eric shot John Klang, he told police that he didnít mean to hurt him, that his goal was to face him and "make him listen" about his being bullied. He reported that he was only allowed to shower once a week, which left him with poor hygiene. The clothes and shoes that his father bought for him were in poor condition and were not the right size. While in prison, Michael Caldwell from Middleton, Wisconsin diagnosed Eric with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


Hainstock was charged with first-degree murder by the Sauk County District Attorney's office, and was found guilty on August 2, 2007. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and will be eligible for parole in 2037 when he is 46 years old.

Hainstock is currently serving his sentence at the Green Bay Correctional Institution in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While in prison, he has allowed Isthmus to share his story. He has written a ten-page letter with the help of his cell-mate. According to Hainstock, he has gained 50 pounds, his reading went from a fourth grade level to a tenth grade level, and he is working on his GED. Hainstock's father and stepmother Priscilla drive 160 miles to visit him about twice a month. In his letter, Hainstock takes total responsibility for what he did. However he believes that he is not to blame for everything. As of October 2008, Hainstocks' supportive cellmate situation was reassigned without any official explanation.

Timing of events

The shooting occurred only two days after the Platte Canyon High School shooting and was the third fatal school shooting in the United States and Canada in two weeks, the first two being the Dawson College shooting and the aforementioned Platte Canyon High School shooting. A fourth shooting, the Amish school shooting, transpired a few days after the Weston incident.



The life of Eric Hainstock: A timeline

By Bill Lueders -

July 31, 2008

This chronology is drawn from psychological reports from experts who had access to school, court, social service and mental health records.

April 4, 1991: Born in La Crosse, Wis., the only son of Shawn Hainstock, then 20, and Lisa Marie Buttke, 19.

November 1993: Parents file for divorce.

1993-1996: Shawn Hainstock, now in Reedsburg, has several intakes for depression and anger issues at a mental health center.

April 1995: Eric, on turning 4, is evaluated for kindergarten in Reedsburg and found to be one to two years behind in language and other skills.

August 1995: Shawn Hainstock gains custody of Eric. He discontinues Eric's use of Ritalin for attention deficient hyperactivity disorder and pulls him from therapy after a single session.

December 1995: A woman Shawn Hainstock is dating obtains a harassment restraining order against him, then one to protect her children. She says Shawn used "frequent and severe spankings" to discipline Eric.

March 1996: Eric, still 4, is brought by his father to the Sauk County mental health unit for temper tantrums and "inappropriate sexual behaviors."

April 1997: A Reedsburg school evaluation finds Eric, having just turned 6, has significant problems with inappropriate behaviors, temper tantrums and aggression. He cries often and hits himself, at times needing to be physically restrained. This same month, Shawn Hainstock marries a woman named Priscilla.

July 1997: A police report states that Eric has been sexually abused by his 13-year-old stepbrother during visits to his mother for about a year, including fondling and "digital/anal penetration." The report also says his mother's new husband would kick and hit him. As a result, visitation with his mother is curtailed.

September 1997: An abuse probe is launched after Eric comes to school with a split lip from his dad. Abuse is not substantiated, but authorities deem Eric at risk and refer the family for treatment services; Shawn Hainstock does not follow through.

November 1997: An evaluation describes Eric as "desperate" to please adults and disruptive in class; his behavior is said to have deteriorated from the previous year.

1999: Hainstock's mother is sentenced to 60 days in jail for failure to pay child support.

February 1999: Seven-year-old Eric's unruly school behavior prompts another evaluation. It finds significant problems with anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, aggression and social skills.

December 1999: Eric, now 8, runs away from home after being punished by his father. Police find him past midnight sleeping on bales of hay, wet and cold; he is taken to the emergency room with mild hypothermia. He tells police he does not want to live with his father and stepmother anymore.

January 2000: Eric punches a student who takes his hat, knocking out a tooth.

March 2000: Lisa Marie terminates parental rights, and Priscilla adopts him.

May 2000: A school nurse puts Eric on a low dose of Ritalin. The improvement is dramatic; he's "well behaved, polite [and] respectful," but problems with impulse control and hyperactivity remain. The medication stops when the school year ends.

September 2000: Following a move, Eric, now 9, begins fourth grade in Wonewoc. He bites a student who gets on top of him. The next day, he doesn't come home from school and is found hiding in a public restroom, expressing fear about his father's reaction to his misbehavior.

October 2000: Eric is again prescribed Ritalin, and again his grades and behavior dramatically improve.

June 2001: A progress report says Eric, 10, is no longer taking Ritalin, resulting in "setbacks in progress."

September 2001: Police are called after Eric's father kicks him several times for botching chores. They learn he also makes Eric hold hot sauce on his tongue and hits him with a paddle marked "Board of Education." At one point, Shawn Hainstock tells authorities they can keep his son. Eric is removed and placed with Irene Hainstock, his father's mother. Shawn is charged with felony child abuse, later reduced to misdemeanor battery and ultimately dismissed.

Fall 2001: Eric's behavior deteriorates. He disrupts class, reports nightmares and fears of dying, makes threats of suicide. He kicks a peer and is suspended for bringing powdered magnesium to school, saying it was drugs.

Winter 2001: Eric, now with his grandmother, resumes taking Ritalin, and his behavior and school performance improve.

April 2002: Shawn Hainstock regains custody of Eric, now 11.

September 2002: Eric transfers to Weston Schools for sixth grade.

April 2003: A review finds Eric, now 12, has a "severe attention deficit problem that needs to be addressed through medication," but his father and stepmother object to his receiving it.

2003-2004: Eric has multiple detentions and is removed from classrooms an average of twice a week. He has to repeat sixth grade. A report calls him "very immature and emotional," saying he cries often. He is physically assaulted by another student. Sauk County officials receive two neglect referrals ó one after Eric comes to school shirtless after being up late doing chores; one deeming him "filthy and smelling." Neglect is not substantiated.

March 2005: Now in the seventh grade, Eric is academically at a fourth- or fifth-grade level and has significant problems with learning, behavior and depression. His parents oppose counseling or other treatment, with his father saying he "is doing better with discipline."

2005-2006: A school psychologist notes in an undated report that eighth-grader Eric is "often hungry because his father would not pay for the discount lunch (30-40 cents)."

February 2006: Police are called to Weston after Eric, 14, becomes angry at another student and a teacher and throws chairs.

Sept. 14, 2006: Eric, 15, quarrels with a student and throws a stapler at a teacher. He is charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct and criminal damage. Several days later he has a physical altercation with his adoptive mother that leaves him with bite marks on his arm and chest. (She later denies biting his chest.) She is not charged.

Sept. 29, 2006: Eric Hainstock goes to school with two guns and fatally shoots principal John Klang.

March 2007: A psychologist interviewing Eric notices he has cut the words "Fuck you" into his forearm. He explains that he is referring to himself.

April 2007: After a hearing, a Sauk County judge refuses to waive Eric's case back into juvenile court.

July 26, 2007: Hainstock's trial starts in Sauk County court, in Baraboo.

Aug. 2, 2007: A jury finds him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.

Aug. 3, 2007: Judge Patrick Taggart sentences Eric to life in prison, with his first eligibility for parole in 2037. Shawn Hainstock tells reporters, "We love our son."


Wisconsin teen gets life in prison for killing school principal

August 3, 2007

Baraboo, Wis. ó (AP) - A 16-year-old was sentenced Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the shooting death of his high school principal.

Eric Hainstock was convicted a day earlier of the first-degree intentional homicide of Weston Schools Principal John Klang last September.

Sauk County Circuit Judge Patrick Taggart said Hainstock would be eligible for parole in 30 years. He also urged the state's Department of Corrections place him a juvenile center.

"I do believe you can be rehabilitated," the judge told Hainstock, who showed no emotion as the sentence was read.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence. District Attorney Pat Barrett argued Hainstock knew what he was doing when he went to school with guns and ammunition Sept. 29, the morning homecoming was to begin.

Hainstock's attorney, Rhoda Ricciardi, said her client was emotional and immature and never meant to kill Klang. She found him watching the children's cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants" before his sentencing Friday morning.

"There is very little thought to anything he does," Ricciardi said.


Teen 'enjoyed playing victim,' counselor says

Hainstock, charged with slaying principal, had handgun, students testify

Associated Press - July 30, 2007

Baraboo - A boy accused of fatally shooting his high school principal picked on other youths and hurled his backpack at them in an effort to get attention, students and a counselor testified Monday.

The testimony erodes defense attorneys' contention that Eric Hainstock lashed out because he was the butt of jokes and bullying.

Hainstock, 16, "enjoyed playing the role of victim," Weston Schools guidance counselor Angela Young told prosecutors.

Hainstock is accused of shooting Weston Principal John Klang on Sept. 29, the day homecoming activities began. He faces a charge of first-degree intentional homicide and could face life in prison if convicted.

Monday's testimony weakened defense attorneys' claims that Klang and teachers did little to stop other students from picking on Hainstock, which drove him to bring guns to school in an effort not to kill but to make people listen.

Young testified Hainstock would often visit her office, to the point at which he would try to get out of class to see her.

He would complain about his stepmother and father and also about being picked on, Young said. But when she investigated the school incidents, she said, she would find the teasing involved Hainstock along with one or two other students and was instigated by him.

Weston special education teacher James Nowak testified he had Hainstock in some classes in September and recounted how the boy hurled a stapler at him. Klang suspended Hainstock for three days after the incident, which occurred two weeks before the shooting.

Nowak also testified Hainstock accused him the day before the shooting of telling Klang he had chewing tobacco in school. Klang had discovered the tobacco and ordered Hainstock serve an in-school suspension for it.

According to a criminal complaint, Hainstock drove to school with a shotgun and a .22-caliber revolver in his pocket. He brought the guns into the school, where a janitor tore the shotgun away from him, but Hainstock escaped a teacher who was trying to corner him, and the boy pulled out the revolver.

Students Josh Manock and Cameron Honer testified they looked around a corner and saw Hainstock with the gun, and Manock said he fled when Hainstock pointed the weapon at his head.

Nowak said he found Hainstock and Klang in a hallway.

When the boy saw him, he swung the gun away from Klang and at him, Nowak said. As Nowak turned to run, Klang dived at the boy and was shot in the ensuing struggle, the complaint says.

Moments earlier, Young said, she had been walking down the hallway and heard Hainstock yell, "I'm here to (expletive) kill somebody."

She hid in a classroom with students, lying on the floor and jamming her hands against the door and feet against a filing cabinet to keep the door shut.

She said she heard shots, then Klang say, "Get the gun." Thinking he needed help, she went into the hall and saw two students on top of Hainstock and Klang lying on his back, bleeding.

She knelt next to Klang and held his hand.

"He said: 'I can't breathe. My back hurts,' " Young testified. Klang died later that day.


Boy May Have Planned Other Weston Killings

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

By Todd Richmond Associated Press

A judge set bail at $750,000 Monday for the 15-year-old boy accused of killing his high school principal after prosecutors said the teen may have been looking for others to attack as well.

Sauk County District Attorney Pat Barrett told the judge there were other "persons of interest" for Eric Hainstock when he went to Weston School in Cazenovia Friday morning and shot Principal John Klang. She told reporters after the five-minute hearing that Hainstock may have had additional targets picked out.

"There were potentially other people that he had a beef with at the time," she said, but did not elaborate.

Hainstock's attorneys asked for $10,000 bail, saying the teen has lived in the Sauk County area his whole life and has no convictions.

But Circuit Judge Patrick Taggart agreed with Barrett.

"It goes without saying the public does need protection in this matter," he said.

If Hainstock were to post the $750,000 cash bond, he would have to submit to electronic monitoring, the judge said. He also would be barred from leaving Sauk County or having contact with anyone at the schools or the Klang family.

A handful of students attended the hearing.

Hainstock and his attorneys appeared in court through a video feed from jail. He sat with his chin in his hand. When Taggart asked him if he understood he faces life in prison, Hainstock replied calmly and firmly, "I do."

He has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

Taggart set a pretrial conference for Hainstock for Oct. 13.

Search warrants show deputies found a note at Hainstock's house from him to his father, along with boxes of ammunition, discipline reports from Weston Schools and a photo of a girl with her eyes poked out. Klang gave Hainstock a disciplinary notice for having tobacco in the school Thursday, the day before the shooting, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators had been to the Hainstock home before. Court records show Hainstock's 35-year-old father, Shawn Hainstock, was charged in 2001 with felony child abuse.

Shawn Hainstock kicked his son several times in the hip for not giving water to some pets, put hot sauce or hot peppers in the boy's mouth for lying or using foul language, and spanked the child with a wooden paddle marked "the board of education," the complaint in that case said.

The elder Hainstock pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery in 2002 as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, which allows people facing criminal charges to have them dismissed if they fulfill certain conditions. The charge against Shawn Hainstock was dismissed in 2003.

Court records also say Eric Hainstock had a medical condition that affected his behavior but he was not receiving treatment because the family could no longer afford drugs or counseling.

The pain from Friday's violence was still apparent Monday in Cazenovia, a tiny farming community of 300 people about 70 miles northwest of Madison.

"Forever changed. 9-29-06," read billboards outside of the town's only gas station and its municipal building, referring to the date of Klang's death.

Flags at the school complex were at half-staff. Some students and staff met with counselors, while others walked the halls, talking and holding each other.

About a half dozen Sauk County investigators also were in the school reviewing the shooting, but Superintendent Terry Milfred said things were starting to get back to normal. Volleyball practice went on Monday morning, and Friday's football game was still scheduled, he said.

"The spectrum varies from grief...all the way to seeing a group that is absolutely normal," he said. "That's especially noticeable with students, who are live and vibrant even though they are grieving."

A funeral Mass for Klang will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Weston High School gymnasium.



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