Student charged with attempted murder in S. Dakota shooting

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Posted: Oct 01, 2015 3:39 PM
Student charged with attempted murder in S. Dakota shooting

CANTON, S.D. (AP) — A 16-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to an attempted murder charge in the shooting and wounding of a South Dakota high school principal.

Mason Buhl didn't speak in court except to give short, polite answers to the judge hearing his case. No bond was set.

Buhl was charged Thursday in an attack a day earlier at Harrisburg High School, near Sioux Falls. Authorities say he got into a dispute with Principal Kevin Lein and fired a shot that hit Lein in the arm.

Two other school officials are credited with tackling Buhl right after the shot was fired.

The teen's next hearing is Oct. 13.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A teenage student has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting of a South Dakota high school principal who was lightly wounded in the arm, authorities said Thursday.

Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman said Mason Buhl, 16, is charged as an adult on one count each of attempted murder and the commission of a felony while armed with a firearm. Buhl is accused of confronting Harrisburg High School Principal Kevin Lein with a handgun in his office Wednesday morning and firing a single shot that left the principal with a flesh wound.

Buhl is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the charges, which carry maximum penalties of 25 years in prison, on Thursday afternoon in Canton, Wolman said. He added that state law requires him to charge a 16-year-old as an adult when the felonies are class 2 or above.

Buhl, a junior, was tackled after the shooting by Assistant Principal Ryan Rollinger, and Rollinger and the school's activities director held him down until sheriff's deputies arrived. No one else was hurt, and students were sent home after the incident. Lein was discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon after a short stay.

Buhl's father told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he doesn't know what led his son to the shooting. He said his ex-wife, with whom his son lives, called to tell him that their son had been arrested following the shooting. He said his son's been quiet over the past year.

"Something's just going on inside of him and he's just mad at everybody, I think," Rodney Buhl said. "I don't know what would've made him do something like this."

He didn't say where his son got the handgun, but said that he and his son would regularly target shoot outside and that his son had taken gun safety courses. Wollman would not say where the student got the gun.

The school has about 635 students from Harrisburg and other communities. Harrisburg, a town of about 5,000 residents, sits 10 miles south of Sioux Falls.

Classes resumed Thursday, and Lein and Rollinger returned to the job "not on my accord but on their accord," said superintendent Jim Holbeck.

The two administrators called a school assembly to express how grateful they were to be able to stand in front of the students again.

"They wanted to be there," Holbeck said. "They wanted to make sure that the kids saw they were safe."

Lincoln County Sheriff Dennis Johnson praised school administrators and law enforcement officers for preventing further tragedy. Asked what can be done to keep guns out of schools, Johnson said militarizing the hallways with metal detectors with armed guards is not the answer.

"We can't have that. That's not our society," Johnson said. "That's certainly not our state. That's certainly not Harrisburg."

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Associated Press writers Regina Garcia Cano and Kevin Burbach in Sioux Falls contributed to this report.