Wisconsin High School Hostage Principal's 911 Call: 'Tell Them to Hurry'
Town reeling in confusion over seemingly soft-spoken hostage taker's death.
MARINETTE, Wis., Dec. 1, 2010— -- Just moments after a student threatened him at gunpoint, the principal of the Wisconsin high school in which two dozen students were held hostage is heard in a hushed voice urging a 911 dispatcher to tell police to "hurry."
The tape of Principal Corry Lambie's 911 call was released today and he can be heard calmly describing the situation to the emergency dispatcher, after just having come face-to-face with the teenage gunman.
"We have a student holding an entire class hostage," Lambie tells emergency operators before saying he's making the call from another classroom. "He has a pistol... Tell them [police] to hurry."
Sam Hengel, 15, brandished two guns he brought from his home on Monday afternoon during the sixth period Western Civilization class at Marinette High School and took teacher Valerie Burd, a 10-year teaching veteran, along with his 24 other classmates hostage, police said.
Burd stayed on the phone with police who called the classroom while Hengel refused to talk and directed arriving students to the safety of the library.
Police responded to the call but did not confront Hengel until they heard gunshots in the classroom Monday night. When they entered, Hengel turned the gun on himself. He died Tuesday morning of a single self-inflicted gunshot. None of the other students were harmed.
After receiving praise from school officials and authorities for her control in such a situation, Burd spoke out for the first time late Tuesday to share credit with the kids.
"The kids were great," Valerie Burd told reporters. "I'm glad they just made it out safe."
"My goal during this incident was to keep Sam and the other students as calm as possible and get them all out safely," Burd said in a statement. "The students responded in an exceptionally calm manner and kept him engaged in conversation throughout the entire time."
Lambie said Tuesday, "She saved the lives of many students by her calm demeanor."
"I made her aware of how proud I was of her," Lambie said. "Her leadership in that classroom was the calming attitude that the students needed to get them out of there safely."