A troubled past
for shooting suspect
September 29, 2006
He said other
students had been tormenting him at school.
The alleged Weston school shooter was a troubled student who acted
up in school, faced physical abuse at home, and who, according to a
criminal complaint, said he was coming to school to confront
officials there about students who were tormenting him.
Two days before 15-year-old Eric Hainstock allegedly shot and killed
his principal, John Klang, on the school's homecoming Friday, he
told a friend that there "was not going to be any homecoming this
year and that Mr. Klang was not going to make it through
homecoming," according to the criminal complaint that charged
Hainstock with first-degree intentional homicide.
The shooting came one day after Hainstock received a disciplinary
notice from Klang for having tobacco in school, the complaint said.
Hainstock, who's being held in the Sauk County Jail, told
investigators that students at the school had been picking on him
and staff wouldn't stop it.
Hainstock had been a disruptive student for several years at both
the Weston School District and in Reedsburg, where he attended
elementary school, said Roger Frommund, a family friend.
"(The shooting) shocks me, and yet it don't shock me," said Frommund,
who said he last saw the young man in June 2005.
"In the past, he's had his problems. Even as a little boy, he was
kind of disruptive," said Frommund, whose grandson attended school
with Hainstock in Reedsburg.
In September 2001, almost exactly five years ago, Shawn Hainstock,
Eric's 35-year-old father, was charged with felony child abuse in
Sauk County Circuit Court for an incident involving the boy, court
The records said the elder Hainstock kicked the boy several times in
the hip area because he was angry that the boy, who was identified
in the records by his initials and date of birth, had not watered
Shawn Hainstock also poured hot sauce and hot peppers in the boy's
mouth for lying and using foul language, and threatened the boy with
juvenile court and foster care, according to court records.
As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, the elder Hainstock
agreed to plead no contest to a lesser charge of battery. Under the
agreement, the boy's father was ordered to have no unsupervised
contact with Eric, an arrangement that lasted for at least a year
and a half, the records indicate.
The charge was dismissed in 2003 after it was determined that
Hainstock had complied with the terms of the agreement.
Shawn Hainstock and Eric's mother were divorced in September 1995.
The mother received visitation rights but Shawn Hainstock, who was
unemployed and receiving Social Security disability payments, was
granted physical placement because the judge believed he presented a
more stable environment for the boy, according to court records.
Eric Hainstock alternated between living with his father and
stepmother and his grandparents in the nearby unincorporated
community of Valton, neighbors said. Relatives gathering at his
grandparents' house declined to be interviewed.
Norman Mast, who is Shawn Hainstock's closest neighbor, said Eric
was over three nights earlier "just visiting."
"I always wanted to get along with him," he said. "I wouldn't want
to get on his bad side."
Harvey Schmuker, who lives on property adjoining the Hainstocks',
saw Eric Hainstock around 7 a.m. Friday carrying what looked like a
"I always had an odd feeling" about Hainstock, Schmuker said but
added he was surprised by the shooting.
Hainstock was a smart child, Schmuker said. "I'm sure he knew what
he was doing. This (the shooting) must have been cooking for a
A man who identified himself only as a second cousin to Hainstock
asked that the teen "be treated fairly" by the public.
"I think people want to damn an individual for their actions and not
take into consideration there are other circumstances that brought
that on," the man said. "What he did was a mistake. By our laws it's
inexcusable (but) I can sympathize with the fact that he was picked
on quite extensively by his fellow classmates."
Another friend of the family who insisted on anonymity said
Hainstock suffered most from being the victim of a broken home, "a
situation that made it very difficult for him to feel loved.
"You know the saying 'It takes a village to raise a child.' It's so
false," the friend said. "It doesn't take a village; it takes two
loving parents, and Eric doesn't have that."