Hundreds mourn student gunman

Dec. 5, 2010 at 9:47 PM
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MENOMINEE, Mich., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people gathered Sunday to mourn a Wisconsin teen who took two dozen hostages at his high school only to free them before killing himself.

The memorial service was held in an auditorium at Blesch Intermediate School in Menominee, Mich., just across the Menominee River from the Marinette High School in Marinette, Wis., where Sam Hengel held classmates and a teacher at gunpoint for several hours last Monday before releasing them and then turning one of his guns on himself.

The auditorium was set up with a tent, canoe, evergreen trees and a fake campfire to replicate a campground, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported. The 15-year-old Boy Scout loved camping, the newspaper said. There were photos of happy times.

Those at the memorial remembered Hengel as a gentle, caring person who was respected by other kids and liked to have fun. They grasped for reasons why he might have chosen to kill himself.

"Why, Sam, why?" the Rev. Nick Johannes of Porterfield Lutheran Church asked.

"This is not about Sam's sin. This is about the world's sin. Something has gone terribly wrong."

The ceremony included warnings about youth suicide and information about a suicide hotline.

"Let us learn from this tragedy," said Hank Johnston, a leader of Hengel's Scout troop.

Dozens of Boy Scouts in uniform stood in formation, saluted their friend and sang a Scout song.

The youth's father, Jon Hengel, spoke to the mourners and to his son.

"Sam, you are in good hands now," he said through tears. "Someday when we meet again, you can tell me what happened."

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