BRATTLEBORO - Crisis response counselors will be available at the Walpole Elementary School in the upcoming weeks to offer support in the wake of a shooting involving a 14-year-old student.
According to The Associated Press, Hunter Mack was hospitalized after he reportedly shot himself in the head in the school's cafeteria in front of 70 other students at around 11 a.m. on Friday. It was unclear what kind of weapon was used or where he got it. No one else was injured in the incident, after which the school, located on Bemis Lane in Walpole, N.H., went into lockdown.
Ruth Mack, whose husband Christopher is a cousin of Hunter's father, David, said on Sunday that the eighth-grader had just gotten out of surgery and "won't be awake for a while," as he has many more surgeries in the near future.
Samuel Jacobs, the principal of the Walpole Elementary School, which goes from fifth to eighth grade, said counselors from the Fall Mountain Regional School District were available at the school following the incident, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and will continue to offer support to students and faculty in the upcoming weeks.
"Basically, the kids will be returning to school at the normal time and we'll be having counselors in each homeroom," he said in a telephone interview on Sunday. "We want them to get back to a normal routine. They'll be with their classes all day."
Jacobs said any students that need to talk in small groups
The Fall Mountain Regional School District's website had a statement on its homepage by Saturday afternoon.
"During this time of crisis, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the individual, the principal, staff, students and the families. The students, parents, staff, and administration are to be commended for the calm and orderly manner in which they handled the incident," it read. "Our heartfelt thanks go to the emergency and law enforcement personnel for their quick response and their collaboration with the district in dealing with this tragic event."
Debra Livingston, superintendent of schools, commended the faculty and staff for handling the situation heroically. She added that her prayers go out to anyone affected.
"We want everyone to know how much we appreciate their support and care," she said, mentioning that she has received phone calls from nearby towns, in addition to neighboring states like Vermont and Massachusetts, offering help in terms of counseling.
"It's been very comforting because we're all in this together," she said.
Ruth Mack said, "We just hope and pray that we can on get the right track again and on the road to recovery."
She referred to Hunter as "a wonderful little boy."
According to the AP, Cheshire County Attorney Peter Heed said Hunter may have been upset about a "relationship issue" with a girl.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.