To the BC community: Mr. Gruetzmacher shares words regarding recent school shootings

Stephanie Chen, Head Editor-in-Chief

Monday, December 2—a 17-year-old student at Waukesha South High School is shot by the school resource officer after bringing two realistic-looking pellet guns to school and threatening a fellow classmate with them.

Tuesday, December 3—a 16-year-old student at Oshkosh West High School is shot by the school resource officer after stabbing him with an unidentified “edged weapon.”

Two nearby school safety incidents. One day apart.

“Certainly having [an incident] that close, having something where you’ve been, hits home, so to speak,” said BCHS Principal Mr. Gruetzmacher. “I’m grateful that they were resolved without the loss of life. But I understand there will be some intense healing process at both schools. I can’t imagine the difficulty they’re going through with having something traumatic like that happen within their classrooms.”

Shortly after the second shooting, a compass conspiracy post popped up on social media. The post depicted a compass labeled with Sheboygan (north), West Bend (east), Waukesha (south), Oshkosh (west), and Brookfield in the center. Orange arrows drawn on the image suggested that Sheboygan, West Bend, and Brookfield were next in line as targets of school shootings.

Though initially alarmed by the post, Mr. Gruetzmacher did not feel that it posed a threat. “I viewed this as someone with some really poor judgment,” he said, “I wasn’t concerned that there was going to be a conspiracy because I knew the two situations were totally unrelated at Waukesha and Oshkosh.”

The police identified two West Bend students as the original creators and distributors of the post, both of whom will be receiving charges from the five communities they posted about, according to Mr. Gruetzmacher. “I’m grateful for the police work that was done in all of those communities,” he said. “The police were probably aware of it before we were, but continue to share things.” Mr. Gruetzmacher himself first learned of the post through a student, as well as some traffic on the StopIt app.

Despite the recent events, Brookfield Central’s safety plans remain the same, including the addition of the school resource officer after winter break. Mr. Gruetzmacher emphasized that this was not a reaction to the recent incidents. “I’m grateful that the school resource officer is coming on board. In my seven years, it’s been discussed for quite some time and I’m glad that it’s all been worked out,” he said.

Still, Mr. Gruetzmacher acknowledged the anxiety such incidents can bring. “Not only am I the principal of this school, I’m also a BC parent. Not only would I never put anyone else’s kid or any staff member in harm’s way, but I’m also a parent, so I understand that viewpoint as well. But at no time was I concerned as this unfolded [for] the safety of anyone here at BC,” he said.

In such times, Mr. Gruetzmacher emphasized that fostering a community of care is more important than ever. “I really believe that the kids at BC care for each other well,” he said, “and if you see someone that’s struggling or you see something or hear something that’s concerning to you, please talk with one of us down in the office or student services. Continue to be a caring, compassionate classmate for one another because ultimately that’s the greatest need that we all have, that we want to be cared [for] and respected.”