WALPOLE — A 14-year-old boy shot himself in front of classmates
at Walpole Elementary School Friday morning, the region’s first
school shooting in recent memory.
The 8th-grade boy, identified as Hunter Mack by classmates, was
taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with
serious injuries. Hospital officials said Friday afternoon the
teenager was still being evaluated by medical staff and no
condition was available. An official said Friday night the hospital
was not releasing information on his condition.
“We’re sad to confirm we had an incident late this morning … the
initial investigation at this time would indicate a self-inflicted
gunshot wound involving one student,” Cheshire County Attorney
Peter W. Heed said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
The incident occurred about 11 a.m. in the cafeteria, according
to Walpole Elementary School Principal Samuel Jacobs. He was in the
cafeteria at the time of the shooting, along with about 70 other
After the shooting, the school, which has about 125 students in
grades 5 through 8, went into a “lock-in” to secure all students in
their classrooms with teachers and counselors, Jacobs said.
Students were released to their parents one by one, and those
who were in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting were
interviewed by police.
By 3:30 p.m. most students had left the school, Jacobs said.
“The kids have been great. They’re just great kids. We’re just
sorry this happened,” he said, his voice beginning to crack. He
declined to comment on the student involved.
Nick Phillips, a classmate of Mack’s, said the teenager mostly
kept to himself.
He told other students he was depressed and had talked about
shooting himself earlier in the week, Phillips said.
Whether bullying was a factor in the shooting and if it was a
suicide attempt or accidental is still under investigation,
according to Heed.
Officials declined to say what type of gun was involved or how
the teenager had access to it.
Within an hour of the shooting, parents began assembling outside
the school to pick up their children. Many were visibly shaken and
huddled together, trying to understand the situation.
Some parents said they did not receive a call from the school
but heard about the incident from other parents and came
The school has an emergency alert system, and an automated call
went out to parents around 1 p.m., informing them of the shooting
and telling parents to come pick up their children.
Parents lined up in front of the school, waiting for their
children to be released. Some mothers wept as police told them that
their children were witnesses to the shooting. As students exited
the school, many had tear-stained cheeks or expressionless faces
and were followed closely by parents.
Many parents said they were relieved to know their children were
“Now that I know she’s safe and OK I’m not that worried anymore.
The police have everything under control,” said Michelle Faulkner,
whose daughter witnessed the shooting.
Others were concerned about the long-term effects on their
“I’m very concerned about my son emotionally,” said Laurie
Harrington. “His school won’t feel safe anymore, at least for a
little while. The world won’t feel safe anymore.”
One parent expressed concerns about children and gun safety.
“I don’t know when parents are going to learn to lock up their
guns,” said Rick Foote.
Counselors from all schools in the district, from neighboring
districts and from Monadnock Family Services in Keene were present
at the school Friday afternoon to talk with students about the
incident, Jacobs said.
Walpole Elementary School will be open all day Saturday and will
have counselors there to speak with staff, students and parents,
“It’s a real sad day.”
Christina Braccio can be reached at 352-1234 extension 1436, or
Abby Spegman can be reached at 352-1234 extension 1409, or