MILWAUKEE -- A former janitor at St. Josaphat School on Milwaukee's south side was charged Friday, June 7 after a weapon in his possession discharged inside the school. The gun went off and a bullet traveled to a nearby classroom and into the path of three students.
Heriberto Martin, 59, faces a felony charge of possession of a firearm on grounds of a school.
According to the criminal complaint, around 1:45 p.m. on Friday, April 5, a teacher inside St. Josaphat Parish School "heard a loud pop, which she believed to be a gunshot. The teacher determined a bullet had entered her classroom, coming through a wall approximately one foot from one student's head, traveling through a second student's jacket and backpack, and finally striking a third student in the side, where it luckily caused only a small red mark."
It took almost two weeks for families of students to be notified of the incident, and that's because administrators weren't immediately notified of what happened.
Families were officially notified on April 18. A letter sent home to parents on April 24 explained the incident wasn't reported to administrators until April 12. Milwaukee police were contacted and an investigation resulted in Martin's termination. Two employees were also placed on leave; one of them resigned and the other retired.
Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez strongly criticized school officials' delay in reporting the incident.
When questioned by police about this incident, Martin indicated "he took his .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol" to school that day. He "claimed he wanted access to his tools at the school to fix an issue with the gun's slide." Martin "admitted that the gun discharged while he was working on it." Martin told officers "he had made a mistake and had no one to blame but himself."
An initial court appearance for Martin was scheduled for June 20.
If convicted on the charge, Martin faces up to three-and-a-half years in prison and $10,000 in fines.