Oct. 25 Active Threat Scare

Principal Kruse describes timeline and plans moving forward


On Oct. 25, Stoughton High School’s ALICE protocol was initiated in place of a lockdown. While a majority of staff and students held in place, those that were able to escape the building took the opportunity to do so. With students scattered on and off campus, communication between administration, staff, students, and the police department became nearly impossible.
Stoughton High School’s principal Mike Kruse describes the timeline of events on that Monday morning.
“On the 25th of October at about 10:17, I fielded a phone call from the police department. They said they were in pursuit of a suspect in the school area, and that person could have items on them that were not safe,” Kruse says.
Kruse explains that while on the phone, the officer appeared to be running and was very adamant about locking down the school. Kruse understood the urgency of the matter and acted as he was told. He promptly exited his office, gave the order to lock the school down, and then returned to his desk to order staff and students to hold in place.
“I went back [into my office] to do a PA announcement, and then I heard the automatic ALICE alarm,” Kruse says. “Once that thing goes, there is no shutting it off. It just goes. It goes for almost a minute. That’s why I immediately got on the PA and tried to ask students to stay in the classroom.”
Kruse’s announcement was able to reach a majority of the staff and students, however, many had already left the building at this point, leaving them unaware that ALICE was initiated accidentally.
The recorded ALICE announcement is not the preferred method of alerting staff and students of a threat in the building.
According to Kruse, one of the only times that method should be used is if the administrative team is unable to get to the PA system because the threat is located near the main office. That way, at least students and staff are alerted that there is some sort of threat nearby. Typically, ALICE is initiated live over the PA system. This allows for more information on the location and appearance of the individual to be given to staff and students, allowing all to make a more informed decision as to whether they should barricade or escape the building.
If there is ever a similar situation in the future, Kruse hopes that the staff will be able to alert everyone of the necessary details and information.
“When people hear [the alarm or the announcement] — students, staff, whoever is in the building — they have to know the direction of the threat. We’re going to try to make it as clear as possible,” Kruse says.
The suspect was apprehended around the time of the alarm’s initiation at an alternate location. According to Kruse, while the individual had been caught, the school needed to remain in lockdown for a little while longer.
The suspect was on campus prior to the initiation of any alarms or protocols.
“That person walked all the way from the back parking lot through our campus and then out the front parking lot and then was picked up by somebody,” Kruse says.
Although the Stoughton Police Department was contacted and asked to give a statement on the matter for this article, they did not return a call or offer any comment.
Kruse acknowledges the emotional turmoil that came from this event.
“It was a hard thing for everybody. It was a hard thing for me personally,” Kruse says.
In the future, Kruse hopes to make the announcements and drills more clear and routine, giving students the knowledge that they need to execute these procedures in a way that is safe and efficient. However, Kruse wants to assure that these staff and students made the right decision with the information that was given to them at the time.
Kruse hopes that by reviewing the procedures and updating outdated systems, students will be able to regain a sense of security in their school.
“I know some people are still apprehensive, and I know they’re still uneasy, and I wish I could take that away, but I can’t. Hopefully over time [that will go away],” Kruse says. “I’ll do whatever I need to do to help and support that.”