WMS employee arrested for meth possession
A 15-year-old male student at Winona Senior High School has been arrested for second-degree assault, possession of a dangerous weapon on school property, and terroristic threats, after allegedly bringing a handgun to school.
According to police, on Thursday, September 26, the juvenile was spotted walking near the high school with what appeared to be a .22 caliber handgun.
The school liaison officer interviewed students, who reportedly confirmed that the juvenile had been bringing a loaded gun to school, and that outdoors near the bike racks, he allegedly put the gun to another student’s head. Several students told police they had seen the gun on school property, but had not reported it.
Deputy Police Chief Tom Williams explained that notifying an adult of dangerous situations, such as a gun on campus, is paramount. “The theme of these mass murders across the country is that nobody actually believes that it’s going to happen until it happens,” Williams said.
There is an immediate need for communication when weapons are in a school setting, he added. Telling an adult may be difficult, but it is necessary.
Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Superintendent Scott Hannon said he and other school leaders were disappointed that witnesses at the school did not come forward. "It's alarming; there's no question about it," he said. "It sets off all sorts of alarms. It just shows that it can happen anywhere." Hannon confirmed that the student would not be returning to the high school.
WAPS officials, explained Hannon, have discussed added security measures, such as metal detectors at the doors. "We still have those discussions. Do we have the money? Can we spend the money?" he explained. The high school and middle school have other security measures, such as staff at entry points, and cameras, and Hannon said ensuring students are comfortable enough to report suspicious activity is an important aspect of school safety, too.
Why wasn't the alleged handgun possession reported by students? "I wish I knew that. I'd imagine that there's some feeling that 'I don't want to narc on my friend,'" explained Hannon, adding some teens might not have taken the situation seriously.
“We are very fortunate that we are able to finally secure the gun and hopefully get the student the assistance he needs,” Williams explained. “We’re lucky nobody was injured.”
On Monday morning, officers arrested the juvenile after a meeting with WAPS administrators. The student was taken into custody and admitted to having a .22-caliber revolver that was later discovered at a relative’s house. It has yet to be determined who owns the gun, according to police.
Middle School methamphetamine arrest
A Winona Middle School paraprofessional, Kee Vang, 30, was arrested during the lunch hour at Winona Middle School on Thursday for allegedly possessing methamphetamine. According to Williams, undercover officers had purchased the drug from the man prior to the arrest. Further investigation led officers to believe the paraprofessional had methamphetamine in his vehicle on school property, according to police. Officers said they had gathered enough evidence to arrest the suspect, and took him into custody while he was working at the school. Vang is being charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.
Hannon said he did not believe that it was true that Vang had brought the drug to the school campus. An unknown number of fifth grade students witnessed the arrest, explained Hannon, adding that school officials spoke with the students about the incident to ensure they were not upset by the police activity on school grounds. "At no time were children in harm's way," he said.