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Teens took loaded assault rifles to school — but a U-turn got them busted, Wisconsin police say

Two Wisconsin 19-year-olds — Willard Hartman, left, and Benjamin Krohn — have been arrested and charged after police say they brought assault rifles, handguns, ammunition and drugs to a basketball game at a Wisconsin school.
Two Wisconsin 19-year-olds — Willard Hartman, left, and Benjamin Krohn — have been arrested and charged after police say they brought assault rifles, handguns, ammunition and drugs to a basketball game at a Wisconsin school. Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office

Had it not been for an illegal U-turn, they might have gotten away with it, police said.

Two 19-year-olds were leaving the Homestead High School parking lot in Mequon, Wisc., on Saturday afternoon when an officer pulled them over for the traffic violation, according to a criminal complaint. When the officer smelled marijuana in the car, he searched the vehicle — and uncovered a trove of loaded assault rifles, handguns and drugs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

One of the teens, Benjamin Krohn, told police the weapons belonged to him, and that he and the other teen in the vehicle, Willard Hartman, had just been watching a friend play basketball on school grounds. Krohn told police that he’d brought his stock of loaded weapons with him “in case he wanted to trade or sell them to someone,” according to the newspaper.

Marijuana and oxycodone were stowed inside a duffel bag and backpack that authorities found while searching the vehicle, police said. Krohn admitted to police that they’d been smoking marijuana in the school parking lot, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Hartman and Krohn, residents of Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., now face a combined 25 criminal charges, WISN reports. Each was released on $5,000 cash bond. Their next court appearance will be next month.

If found guilty, each could face years in prison and hefty fines, the Journal Sentinel reports.

“While it is unsettling to know that strangers were on our campus over the weekend with guns, they were not targeting anyone here or targeting our school,” Mequon-Thiensville School District Superintendent Matthew Joynt told students’ parents in a letter following the incident, Fox 6 reports.

Joynt said in the letter that there had been a basketball tournament at the school that day. Sturgeon Bay, where the suspects are from, is just over two hours north of Mequon by car. Mequon, where the arrest was made, is a suburb north of Milwaukee.

Students at the school expressed alarm.

“It really makes me think about where they got them and how they got them,” Frances Mackinnon, a junior at the high school, told NBC 26.

Hartman faces a total of 11 charges: possessing narcotics, five counts of possessing firearms on school grounds and five counts of carrying a concealed weapon, Fox 6 reports. Krohn, meanwhile, faces 14 charges: possessing narcotics, possessing marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia, six counts of carrying a concealed weapon and five counts of possessing a firearm on school grounds.

Weapons police found in the vehicle included “an unlocked Taurus handgun” behind the driver’s seat on the floor, as well as “a Taurus 1911 45 ACP and a magazine with six rounds of .45 caliber ammunition.” Police discovered an AK-47 rifle and an AM-15 rifle when they looked in the vehicle’s trunk, Fox 6 reports — in addition to a Kel Tec Sub 2000 rifle in a backpack in the vehicle’s backseat.

The criminal complaint didn’t indicate whether or not the weapons were brought into the school, WTMJ reports, or if they were left in the vehicle in the school’s parking lot.

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