16-year-old injured in attack at Madison East High School, police say

MADISON, Wis. — Four teens could be facing adult criminal charges after a fight at East High School that left another student injured.

In an incident report, police said officers responded to the school just before 2 p.m. for a report of a battery. The victim, a 16-year-old boy was in an empty classroom around lunch when the group approached him and attacked him.

According to Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim Lemonds, that incident was one of three involving MMSD students that happened Wednesday afternoon. Two were off campus, which is often the case, but the conflict in one of those fights led to another inside East High.

“Honestly, I’m going to be very transparent. I feel like East High School isn’t any different today than any other high school in Dane County,” he told News 3 Now Thursday afternoon. “A lot of our students are still struggling and we all need to just give school staff some grace to deal with those issues and preventing them when they occur.”

Still, news of Wednesday’s fight had some students thinking back to the safety concerns of last fall, the worst of which was a fight involving dozens of students and police using pepper spray to break them up.

RELATED: ‘We don’t feel safe’: Fights at East High lead to students pepper sprayed, citations, and ambulances

“All I can say is this school is honestly chaotic,” said East High student Embrima. “I’m a senior here but from what I’ve seen it’s just absolutely chaotic.”

But Lemonds said despite the latest incident at East High, the school is still making progress. He said last year’s fights were larger scale because some student spectators would jump in and others would egg them on but he said since, this year, the culture at East has changed.

“The majority of those students at East High School are doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re not participating in these altercations at all.”

RELATED: ‘The school needs help’: MMSD plans district-wide analysis to study uptick in violence following fights at East High School

Lemonds acknowledges there are still some students struggling to resolve their conflicts without violence, so the district has been focusing a lot on prevention specifically targeting those at-risk students.

He said since last year, they’ve dramatically increased student access to social, emotional, and mental health services and trained staff to identify students in need of extra help.

“What I would say is to our families is just be confident that we’re working with these students,” he said. “We’re working very closely with those students and their families in order to get to the root cause of why they are choosing violence to solve their conflicts.”

Police said the 16-year-old injured in Wednesday’s fight received medical treatment for his injuries and is expected to recover.

According to the report, two of the four suspects are not East High School students but attend a different program in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Those two suspects, both 17, will likely be charged as adults.

Police did not release further details about the extent of the victim’s injuries or what led to the incident but did note the victim and the group appeared to have had some past disagreements.