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Walpole student in serious condition after shooting himself at school

Union Leader Correspondent

February 10. 2012 12:59PM
Cheshire County Attorney Peter Heed holds a press conference outside of Walpole Middle School Friday afternoon following a shooting at the school. (MEGHAN PIERCE)

WALPOLE - A Walpole Middle School 8th grader was in serious condition Friday night after he shot himself in the school cafeteria Friday morning.

The shooting took place at about 11 a.m.. The boy was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

The incident triggered a school lockdown and parents were notified to come to the school to pick up their children. By 1 p.m. parents and grandparents were still lined up outside of the school anxiously waiting to pick up their children.

When parents arrived they were asked to check in with police officers at the front doors of the school on Bemis Lane.

Parents were brought one by one into the school, coming out soon after with their children.

Some parents, though, were asked to wait in one line, as their children had been in the cafeteria during the shooting, and it had to be determined if they had been witnesses. Between 1 and 2 p.m. the line of the parents on hold only seemed to grow, with few being called up to collect their children.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Cheshire County Attorney Peter Heed held a press conference outside of the school, saying that the student was in serious condition from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

'First of all, everyone is safe. There is no indication that there was anyone involved except this one young man,' Heed said. 'Our thoughts go out to the family of this young man and our thoughts go out to all of the students that were in the school at this time.'

Heed said the boy is 14 years old and that they would not release his name. Heed also would not say what gun was used or give any other details.

'The exact details are under investigation,' Heed said. 'We are not releasing the identity at this point,' but the student is being treated for serious injuries.

Laurie Phillips of Swanzey, though, said the boy is her cousin Hunter Mack.

Her two stepchildren, Nicholas, 13, and Casey, 14, are in the same grade as Hunter, and Casey is 'very upset' by the shooting, but neither of her stepchildren were present during the shooting.

Nicholas and Casey's mother, Jen Graves, of Walpole, said Hunter was in counseling and that about a month ago his neighbors were so concerned about him that they called police and all guns had been removed from his home.

'He just seemed frazzled last week when I saw him,' Graves said.

Holding his daughter Casey tight, Robert Phillips of Swanzey said after learning his children were physically safe he became concerned for their emotional wellbeing.

'Once you know that they are safe the biggest concern is now, 'What are they are going through?' They are obviously scared. They don't have their parents. They are sitting in a room somewhere,' Robert Phillips said.

Sam Jacobson, Walpole Middle School principal, told reporters he was inside the school cafeteria when the shot was fired. Students were 'shocked,' he said. He said the school had counselors inside the school working with students and that more information about counseling would be sent out to parents Friday night.

The Phillipses said they would probably not know any more about Hunter's medical condition until they visit him in the hospital, which they were planning to do that day.

Friday afternoon, Gov. John Lynch released a statement saying, 'This is a terrible tragedy, and I know that all of New Hampshire shares in the pain and grief of the children, families and community of the Walpole Elementary School. The State of New Hampshire is offering whatever assistance it can to the community, along with all of our thoughts and prayers.'

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