Two face charges after suspicious incident at Appleton East High School

Published: Apr. 7, 2017 at 11:07 PM CDT
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Appleton Police are holding two men from the Wausau area after a suspicious incident at Appleton East High School led to the discovery of two handguns in the parking lot.

Police are seeking charges against 21-year-old Blong Vang of possession of a firearm in a school zone and child abuse with intent to cause harm. They're seeking charges against 17-year-old Tou Thao of child abuse with intent to cause harm.

A 16-year-old boy who was put in secure detention for the incident was transported to Marathon County.

The Appleton Police Department says a school resource officer led to the discovery and the arrests Thursday afternoon.

According to police, the officer noticed two people in a hallway at the end of the school day who didn't appear to be students. When questioned, they gave the officer inconsistent answers about their reasons for being there.

School staff began checking the parking lots. They found a car that wasn't registered to park at the school and police were called in. Officers searched the vehicle and found two handguns -- one loaded -- and magazines for the guns filled with ammunition.

Police say the people at the school came from the Wausau area intending to retaliate against a student there.

"Not really clear at this point, at least on my end, on why there was a need for retaliation, but it was clear to our investigators that these individuals didn't just happen to come down from the Wausau area on their own. They came down at the request of someone, and it was retaliation for something either real or a perceived wrong," says Sgt. David Lund, Appleton Police Department.

The guns were not brought into the school. Police say they're investigating how the guns were obtained.

Parents were notified by the Appleton Area School District through a recorded phone message.

"While these individuals were not armed, upon search of there of vehicle, by the Appleton Police Department, two handguns were found," says Principal Matt Mineau. "While no one was injured in this incident, we share your concerns whenever there are weapons on our campus."

Sgt. Lund praised the school resource officer's actions.

"Fortunately it gets back to knowing our schools, knowing the population, within the schools, and our school resource officer making that contact, really one of those reasons why we have one of our school resource officers there," said Sgt. Lund.

Appleton School Superintendent Lee Allinger along with Appleton East mom Linda Van Linn also commend the school resource officer who stopped what could have been a violent situation.

"Our school resource officers and community policing practices with the Appleton Police Department and building relationships with kids, being present in our schools, assuring kids it's going to be a safe place to come, really bore some fruit yesterday," said Allinger.

"It can be a madhouse over there with the traffic and kids so for him to notice two kids who never went to school there, hats off to him," said Van Linn.

And believes these types of situations are rare in Appleton.

"Appleton is a good place to live, it's still a good safe place for me to raise my kids," said Linn.

Allinger doesn't plan to change the way Appleton East operates after school.

But safety is still a top concern.

"I want our parents to be reassured that we are focusing on safety and our partnership with the Appleton Police Department really has helped us out with that as well," said Allinger.

There are no classes in the school district on Friday. The day off was already on the calendar with the upcoming Easter weekend.