Men from Sturgeon Bay arrested with 3 assault rifles in Homestead HS parking lot

MEQUON -- Two men, 19, from Sturgeon Bay, were arrested Saturday, Feb. 10 for possession of narcotics and firearms, including three assault rifles on the campus of Homestead High School -- according to a letter from the Mequon-Thiensville School District Superintendent Matthew Joynt.

Willard Hartman

Willard Hartman faces 11 charges:

  • Possession of narcotic drugs
  • Possession of a firearm on the grounds of a school (five counts)
  • Carrying a concealed weapon (five counts)

Benjamin Krohn faces 14 charges:

  • Possession of narcotic drugs
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Possession of a firearm on the grounds of a school (five counts)
  • Carrying a concealed weapon (five counts)
  • Possession of THC
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

Benjamin Krohn

According to that letter, Mequon police pulled over the men's vehicle in the Homestead High School parking lot after an officer spotted the vehicle making an illegal U-turn on Mequon Rd. The men said they were in Mequon "because they had a friend on the Sturgeon Bay basketball team participating in a basketball tournament being held at the high school."

Superintendent Joynt said in his letter to parents: "While it is unsettling to know that strangers were on our campus over the weekend with guns, they were not targeting anyone here or targeting our school."

"I never thought anything like that would happen around here in Mequon or near Homestead. It's amazing how in any neighborhood it can happen and people can bring guns or any of that stuff by our school. It's just crazy to me," Hannah Speich said.

"The times that we're in -- kinda crazy that these things are happening, especially in schools. I think it's just insane that people are bringing these things to school grounds and school events," Stefan Grbic said.

Homestead High School

Superintendent Joynt noted in his letter that the news broke on the same day 17 people lost their lives in a school shooting in Florida, and addressed the steps taken to ensure safety within the school district.

According to a criminal complaint, the arrests occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Saturday after that illegal U-turn was performed at Mequon Rd. and North River Tr. in Mequon.

Hartman was driving, prosecutors say, and Krohn was the front-seat passenger.

Homestead High School

Hartman told investigators they were at Homestead watching a basketball game "and he did not see the no U-turn sign." While investigating, an officer noted a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle and Krohn "stated he had marijuana," according to the complaint.

Krohn was searched and a baggie with a small amount of a green, leafy substance believed to be marijuana was found in his jacket pocket, along with brass knuckles, which Krohn said he "uses for protection."

The complaint says "an unlocked Taurus handgun" was found on the floorboard behind the driver's seat, and inside the case, an officer found "a Taurus 1911 45 ACP and a magazine with six rounds of .45 caliber ammunition." In the trunk, officers found an AK-47 rifle and a magazine, both empty, an AM-15 rifle with the chamber empty but a 30-round magazine inserted. Additionally, a Glock was found on the front passenger floorboard with a loaded magazine but no rounds in the chamber, and a Kel Tec Sub 2000 was found folded with a magazine next to it in a backpack on the rear passenger floorboard.

Homestead High School

Homestead High School

Prosecutors say investigators found a pill later identified as oxycodone in a baggie inside a duffel bag and four cigar wrappers -- one with the tobacco removed and no paper. They also found a green, leafy substance in the backpack which tested positive for THC.

Homestead High School

The complaint says Krohn said they'd gone to Homestead to see a friend play basketball and he admitted to smoking marijuana in the parking lot. He said the firearms belonged to him and he "brought them with in case he wanted to trade or sell them to someone."

Hartman and Krohn made their initial appearances in court on Feb. 12. Cash bond was set at $5,000. A status hearing was set for March 6.

Below is the complete letter from the superintendent:

"Dear Parents and Guardians:

On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 14, administrators in the Mequon-Thiensville School District were made aware of the details of an arrest that occurred the previous weekend on the Homestead High School grounds. We became aware of the full extent of the situation not long before the story was covered by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Two nineteen-year-old men from Sturgeon Bay, Wis., were pulled over by Mequon Police in the Homestead High School parking lot on Saturday, February 10, 2018, after an officer spotted the car they were driving make an illegal u-turn nearby on Mequon Road. The two men stated they were in Mequon because they had a friend on the Sturgeon Bay basketball team participating in a basketball tournament being held at the high school. The police arrested the two men for possession of narcotics and firearms, including three assault rifles.

While it is unsettling to know that strangers were on our campus over the weekend with guns, they were not targeting anyone here or targeting our school.

News of this arrest broke on the same day as the chilling report of multiple casualties as a result of the school shooting in Florida. These unrelated, but nonetheless disturbing events, certainly give us all pause and provide us with the opportunity to reflect on school safety and its importance in the Mequon-Thiensville School District.

Each school day, the Mequon-Thiensville School District is entrusted to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for over 3,000 students and more than 400 staff members and volunteers in its buildings. We take this responsibility very seriously. Our families and the community expect schools to keep their children safe from threats (human-caused emergencies such as crime and violence) and hazards (natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and accidents). As an organization, we have invested a great deal in resources to support crisis prevention, protection, and preparedness.

SECURE BUILDINGS

The Mequon-Thiensville School District leadership team, with the support of the Board of Education, is focused on managing our resources to ensure the safety of all students, staff members, and community stakeholders. All schools in our district are protected with the following security features:

  • An access control system through the use of electronic keys or FOBS. The FOB system provides many benefits, including providing a higher level of security, additional visibility and reporting of activity, more control over secured areas, lowered risk of illegally duplicated keys, and an easier and less expensive method for replacing lost or damaged credentials. The risk of unwelcome visitors entering school grounds is mitigated because individuals must present a credential or FOB to gain access. This keyless access system provides us the ability to control who enters the building and at what time. It also ensures all doors are securely locked at all times.
  • Single point of entry during school hours. This is a front door location that is easily seen and supervised to provide more control over who can enter the building. The single point entry includes dedicated space, or a vestibule, to manage visitor entry to each school. A vestibule at the main entrance provides an additional layer of perimeter security. The design automatically funnels visitors into a main office before granting them access to other parts of the school.
  • Raptor Technologies’ Visitor Management Software. This automated system allows front desk staff members to confirm that visitors are who they say they are through the scan of a driver’s license, know who’s on campus and the reason for his or her visit, screen against unwanted guests and perform background checks on visitors before allowing them access. The system can send instant alerts via text and email to a customized list of recipients, such as school resource officers and principals when necessary precaution is necessary.
  • Panic alarm system. The schools each have panic buttons placed at strategic points. These buttons automatically alert appropriate district staff members and limit access within the building.
  • Video Surveillance. Prominently placed cameras can deter bad behavior because students, staff, and visitors know that they may be monitored. Each of our schools have numerous video cameras including cameras strategically placed at all building entrances to alert office staff when a visitor arrives.

EMERGENCY DRILLS

Emergency preparedness is a critical part of the district’s safety efforts. Regular practice for staff and students helps ensure that best practices are followed in the case of an actual emergency. All district schools practice emergency drills, including fire drills, tornado drills, and lockdown drills.

SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER

As a school district, we also benefit from the Mequon Police Department’s assignment of a full-time school resource officer. The school resource officer helps prepare our schools to handle crises by informing crisis planning and management systems, developing and coordinating emergency response plans, creating protocols for handling specific emergencies, and assisting in the facilitation of emergency response exercises.

The school resource officer assigned by the Mequon Police Department to the Mequon-Thiensville School District is an invaluable resource of expertise specific to current best practices and procedures in these areas. It has been and remains a priority for the school district to be informed in our practices and procedures by experts in the field.

SAFETY COMMITTEE

Our school district also benefits from a safety committee made up of administrators, buildings and grounds staff members, and external partners including the Mequon Police Department, that is facilitated by our executive directors of business and student services. This school year, the members of this committee have attended public safety response and active shooter training and shared best practices through orchestrated tabletop exercises for crisis response with the district’s entire administrative team (made up of district and building leaders) and by conducting emergency drills in all of our buildings. In order for security solutions to perform at their best, school staff must be fully trained on policies, procedures, and technologies. Our school safety leaders ensure that training and drills are consistent and repetitive.

SAFETY AUDIT

In October 2016, the school district retained the services of Safe Havens International Inc. – a campus safety consultant firm out of Macon, Georgia – to conduct an audit on district security protocol and procedures. The comprehensive safety assessment conducted by Safe Havens International included all six school sites and the support facilities operated by the District. The assessment included a combination of off- and on-site evaluations. Off-site assessments included a review of the emergency plans and documents related to school safety for the District. On-site assessments included site visits from two analysts and focused on school safety systems including general security measures and practices, visitor management procedures, camera surveillance systems and perimeter protection measures.

Besides the site visits, the analysts also interviewed building administrators and support staff to evaluate core competencies in managing emergencies. In addition to these school-level assessments, the team also conducted a series of district-level meetings with key District personnel and with representatives from law enforcement agencies to determine relevant safety concerns and issues unique to our school district. The assessments used to inform this audit were specific in scope to general safety, security, and emergency preparedness issues. The comprehensive report from the audit was provided in December 2016 and noted as a key finding “that successes have already been achieved in the areas of security, climate and culture in the District.”

Please know that each of our schools benefit from student support personnel including social-emotional coaches, school counselors, and psychologists that support young people and staff members in our schools. Our student support team members are available and prepared for any students or staff that need help processing the situation.

Parents entrust schools not only with their child’s intellectual development and social growth, but also with their child’s safety and well-being during the school day. Please know that safeguarding the members of our school communities - our students and staff members - is and will remain of the utmost importance to us.

Sincerely,

Matthew Joynt

Superintendent of Schools"