‘Nothing intentional’: Janesville PD investigates after officer’s gun fires at school

A school resource officer remains on-duty as an investigation follows why here gun allegedly fired inside a Janesville school.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:31 PM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - A school resource officer with the Janesville Police Department remains on duty as an internal investigation follows how her gun allegedly fired inside a school.

“This is not something we are pleased that had happened. This is something we’re taking serious,” Sgt. Benjamin Thompson with the Janesville Police Department, said.

The incident at Edison Middle School Monday was described to families by the district superintendent later that afternoon, as NBC15 first reported.

Thompson identified the officer as Denise Stutika and said, based on her account, she was in her school office Monday morning and was removing her backpack when a part of it got hooked on the butt of her gun. As she was trying to remove it, the gun went off.

“We just don’t know how something got in the trigger guard area and caused it to fire, and we’re trying to figure that out,” Thompson said.

Officials said nobody was hurt.

Thompson shared photo evidence from the scene, including a bullet on the floor and a cracked gun holster, which Thompson said shows the pressure of the discharge, a sign the gun stayed in the holster the entire time. He added, the shell casing was still in the gun, another signal the gun stayed in the holster.

Janesville Police Department shared photos of a bullet and cracked holster involved in Monday's...
Janesville Police Department shared photos of a bullet and cracked holster involved in Monday's incident at Edison Middle School.(WMTV)

“Upon seeing the gun still in the holster, the condition of the gun in the holster, we are comfortable and confident that there was nothing intentional here,” he said.

“It’s an unfortunate event. I mean, it’s an embarrassment, and I think we have a high degree of trust that we try to achieve in the community, and unfortunately, I think a little bit of that is eroded, so we’re determined to figure out what happened.”

Thompson said the gun was set to ship out Tuesday to the manufacturer Smith and Wesson, as part of the department’s own investigation of what happened.

“Certainly I guess we could’ve asked another agency to look into it, and if we would’ve found anything where we thought that this was some type of criminal misconduct or intentional, we certainly would’ve stepped aside and asked another agency to step in and investigate it,” he said.

The department is also in contact with manufacturers of the ammunition and holster, with hopes to learn more of what happened by the end of the week.

Stutika returned to work as usual Tuesday, according to Thompson. She has been a police officer for more than 25 years and has worked at Edison Middle for 7 years.

“We’re not concerned about her ability to do her job,” he said. “She’s been a stellar officer for her entire career. If we were concerned about her ability to do her job she wouldn’t be there today.”