Teens charged in school break-in, beating

Burglary and riot charges stem from January incident at Southwest High School

LINDEN HILLS — Four teens face charges for allegedly breaking into Southwest High School and attacking a student on a late-January school day.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced the charges against the juveniles — three 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old — March 1. The incident was sparked by an argument that began on Facebook, the office reported.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman plans to charge the teens with burglary and riot. In a press release, Freeman said he opted for the burglary charge because it carries more severe penalties than lower-level assault charges.

According to the county attorney’s office, the four young men rushed into a fifth-hour chemistry class and attacked a Southwest student with kicks and punches. The teacher attempted to intervene, was hit and had his little finger broken. The student eventually was able to break free and ran out of the classroom. The four teens facing charges then fled, too.

The county attorney’s office reports that the four teens apparently gained entry to the high school through a door that was locked to the outside. Typically only one entrance is unlocked during school hours, and a monitor asks all visitors to sign in and wear a visitor’s badge while in the building. According to the district, a door was left unlocked because of construction work at the school.

The four teens were identified after police obtained video of them from a Metro Transit bus. School staff members followed them when they fled the building and watched them board the bus at 47th & Xerxes, just three blocks from the school.

The teens charged in the incident are all Minneapolis Public Schools students who attend other district schools.

Tuesday afternoon Gail Plewacki, the district’s communications director, released the following statement: 

“The routinely locked doors at Southwest have mag locks that prevent the doors from being opened from the inside. The day of the assault, the mag lock on a door was disabled because there was construction at the building and contractors needed to be let in. Someone took advantage that the door could be opened from the inside to let people into the building who shouldn’t have been there. This was a unique situation.”