Waukesha Student Who Pointed Pellet Gun At Police Charged

Complaint: Student Was Tired Of Being Picked On

Waukesha South High School
School buses and vehicles of guardians and parents crowd the streets surrounding and parking lot of Waukesha South High School after reports of a shooting inside the high school Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Corrinne Hess/WPR

The Waukesha South High School student who was shot last week by a Waukesha police officer after allegedly pointing a pellet gun at another student’s head said he was “tired of being picked on,” according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Tyrone Smith, who turned 18 on Friday, has been charged with: felony second-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon; and misdemeanors resisting or obstructing an officer; disorderly conduct, use of a dangerous weapon; and possession of a dangerous weapon on school premises.

Smith told police he brought the pellet gun to school to scare students he said were bullying him, according to the criminal complaint. Smith said he was angry, thinking about his brother, who was killed in 2017. This same brother brought a gun to Waukesha South in 2015 and shot it into the ground, according to the complaint.

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On the morning of Monday, Dec. 2 Smith came to school with a pellet gun and brought it to his classroom. After pulling out the pellet gun in the room — causing students to flee the room — Smith said his teacher Brett Hart told him, “You don’t need to do this,” according to the complaint.

A school resource officer came to the room and helped clear students out of the classroom. Smith said the school resource officer told him to get on the ground, but he refused.

About four of five minutes later, Waukesha Sgt. Brady Esser, an 11-year veteran of the department, entered the room and told Smith to remove his hands slowly from his sweatshirt pocket, according to the complaint. Esser said Smith moved his hands too quickly with the gun in his hands.

Esser said he feared for his life and was forced to shoot.

Smith said he immediately felt a sharp pain in his right arm. Smith was shot in the thigh and twice in the bicep. Smith was taken to Children’s Wisconsin where he underwent surgery and has since been released.

Smith told police he was sorry and knew it was wrong to bring a gun to school, according to the complaint.

Waukesha police are not addressing the timing of the gunshot, or questions regarding whether Hart had Smith restrained when officers entered the room.

Smith is eligible for a public defender, and an attorney has not been appointed for him yet. He appeared in Waukesha County Court on Monday and is due back in court Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Teacher’s Involvement

There have been multiple media reports that Hart, who has been a special education teacher for more than 20 years, was involved in restraining Smith before police arrived.

Hart’s wife wrote on her Facebook page she was proud of her husband’s involvement:

“He restrained the student until police officers arrived. Brett isn’t supposed to say much …,” she wrote.

During a press conference last week, the Waukesha Police Department would not confirm Hart’s involvement. Capt. Dan Baumann would only say, “To that teacher. Thank you.”

When asked by WPR last week to comment on Hart’s involvement and when he stopped restraining Smith, Baumann and Police Chief Russell Jack refused to comment.

“Your email is a confirmation as to why we are extremely responsible when we release information,” Baumann said via email. “For people including media outlets to chase stories or run something that has not been vetted and verified on a multi-level approach is irresponsible. When we have thoroughly investigated all the actions of those involved students and staff we will release more information.”

The day after the Waukesha school shooting, Oshkosh West High School resource officer Mike Wissink shot and wounded a 16-year-old student after the boy stabbed him in his office. No charges have been filed in that case.