John McLaughlin was responsible for the Rocon High School shooting in Minnesota. According to court documents John McLaughlin walked into Rocon High School looking for a particular student who he said was bullying him over his acne. McLaughlin would find the student exiting a locker room and proceeded to shoot him in the chest, the teen killer would fire a second shot hitting another student which would cause his death.
The initial victim would try to run from the scene however he would be chased down and shot in the head. John McLaughlin would empty his gun and turn himself over to a teacher. McLaughlin would be convicted of the two murders and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
John McLaughlin 2020 Information
MNDOC Offender ID:218041
Name:John Jason Mclaughlin
Current Status:Incarcerated as of 08/30/2005.
Currently at MCF Stillwater.
Anticipated Release Date: Life –
John McLaughlin Other News
On September 24, 2003, John McLaughlin loaded his father’s semiautomatic .22 caliber pistol, put it in a gym bag, and brought it to school with the intention to “shoot some people.” Specifically, McLaughlin intended to “hurt” fellow ninth-grader Bartell, who, according to McLaughlin, was one of the students who teased him “all the time.” Bartell and McLaughlin were in the same physical education class. Shortly before that class was to start, McLaughlin brought the gun to the boys’ locker room and cocked it in the bathroom so no one would see it. He then hid the gun in his gym bag, sat on a bench, and waited for Bartell. Other students were getting ready for class in the locker room at this time. John McLaughlinasked one of these students, R.S., where C.E., another student in the physical education class, was. R.S. responded that C.E. was gone that day.
Shortly thereafter, R.S. left the locker room with Bartell, who had changed clothes in an area of the locker room that John McLaughlin could not see. McLaughlin followed R.S. and Bartell out of the locker room and into a hallway, where he fired the gun at and hit Bartell. Bartell grabbed his left side as he and R.S. continued down the hallway toward a staircase leading to a gymnasium. Meanwhile, McLaughlin cleared a jam in the gun and reloaded it. Before Bartell and R.S. reached the stairs, McLaughlin fired a second shot in Bartell’s direction; this shot missed Bartell, but hit fellow student Aaron Rollins, who was walking toward McLaughlin. Rollins raised his hands toward the wound in his neck and as he started falling, said, “[h]elp me, I’m hurt. Help me, I’ve been shot.”
As R.S. and Bartell climbed the stairs, Bartell lifted his shirt and said to R.S., “Look, I’m shot.” R.S. and Bartell continued up the stairs and into the gym, looking for their physical education teacher. Shortly thereafter, McLaughlin entered the gym and approached Bartell. When McLaughlin was approximately two feet from Bartell, who had turned to face him, McLaughlin shot Bartell a second time, this time hitting him in the forehead. Student witnesses estimated that the gun was anywhere from one to eight inches from Bartell’s head when McLaughlin pulled the trigger, but a forensic expert determined that the distance was approximately 18 inches to three feet. Bartell collapsed instantly, and McLaughlin started to walk away.
Physical education teacher Mark Johnson was completing some paperwork in the gym when McLaughlin shot Bartell the second time. As McLaughlin walked away from Bartell, Johnson stood up from his seat in the bleachers and first began to walk toward Bartell, and then toward McLaughlin. After Johnson took two or three steps toward McLaughlin, McLaughlin raised the gun and pointed it at Johnson. Johnson stopped immediately, raised his hand, and said “no” in a loud voice. McLaughlin then lowered the gun, ejected the remaining shells onto the floor, and dropped the gun. Johnson picked up the gun, grabbed McLaughlin by the wrist, and took him to the school office. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement officers arrived and transported McLaughlin to the police station.
While the officers dealt with McLaughlin, emergency response personnel attended to Bartell and Rollins. Attempts to revive Rollins through CPR were unsuccessful, and he was declared dead upon arrival at a St. Cloud hospital. Bartell underwent surgery soon after he arrived at the same hospital, but remained unconscious until his death 16 days later.
In an interview with Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Agent Ken McDonald immediately after the shooting, McLaughlin initially admitted shooting Bartell in the basement, but moments later, he said that he thought his first shot missed Bartell. McLaughlin told McDonald that once he reached the gym, he “shot [Bartell] again” from a distance of five to six feet. When asked where he shot Bartell, McLaughlin responded, “I don’t know, I think right here,” and pointed toward his shoulder. McLaughlin told McDonald that he did not think he shot anyone other than Bartell, but he acknowledged that he might have, “if [he] missed, maybe.” Midway through the interview, McDonald learned that one of the victims had died. When he relayed this information to McLaughlin, McLaughlin started to cry.
McLaughlin denied wanting to kill or “seriously hurt” anybody and told McDonald that he “was just trying to hurt [Bartell] like he hurt me.” He said that he did not think a .22 gun would do “very much” harm. McLaughlin also told McDonald that he started thinking about bringing a gun to school approximately one week earlier. He also said that two days before the shootings he checked the school for metal detectors and security cameras. Toward the end of the interview, McDonald asked McLaughlin, “Do you think you did something wrong today?” McLaughlin replied, “[y]eah.”
McLaughlin told McDonald that his trouble with Bartell began in sixth grade, and that he was teased “basically about [his] zits and stuff.” Of the 12 students who testified at McLaughlin’s trial, including several of McLaughlin’s friends, only two told the district court that they had ever observed any conflict between Bartell and McLaughlin. The conflicts these witnesses described involved pushing, yelling, and “talking,” but not Bartellcalling McLaughlin names or teasing him about his acne or anything else. Two students testified that C.E. called McLaughlin names such as “fag” and “asshole.” But these witnesses qualified their testimony by stating that C.E. teased “everybody else” in the same manner, that C.E. was “just a kidding type of guy,” and that the conflict between C.E. and McLaughlin was “nothing major.” A third witness remembered one instance in which C.E. pushed McLaughlin out of the way by McLaughlin’s locker, and McLaughlin responded by acting as if it did not happen.
The student who said he only saw Bartell and McLaughlin “talking” apparently testified to the grand jury that McLaughlin “was teased almost every day or every other day” and that “[Bartell] and his friends would go up to [McLaughlin] and they would just push him around.” On cross-examination, this student agreed with defense counsel’s statement that “[your grand jury testimony] was based mainly on rumors that you had heard.” Another witness admitted on cross-examination that she had heard stories from other students about McLaughlin being teased, even though she never saw it happen. Defense counsel read from a statement this same witness gave to BCA agents on the day of the shooting, in which she said that McLaughlin “was a pretty good person and he got teased for a lot of things, for just a lot of things.”
B.K., who knew McLaughlin since elementary school and developed a friendship with him in middle school, told the court that she exchanged e-mail messages with McLaughlin during the summer before ninth grade and after the school year started. During this time, McLaughlin told B.K. that he had a girlfriend named Suki Renoko, and he asked B.K. if she would exchange e-mail messages with Renoko. B.K. began to correspond with Renoko, but she soon became suspicious that there was no such person and that Renoko was actually McLaughlin. She testified that the messages contained overly personal questions that typical 14-year-olds would not ask and had the same spelling errors as McLaughlin’s messages. In one message from “Renoko,” McLaughlin characterized himself as a “sniper.” In another, he described an incident in which he cut the face of someone who stabbed his sister. Before classes began on the day of the shooting, McLaughlin e-mailed B.K. under his own name and wrote, “befor[e] [I] go to[o] far [I] have to ask you not to tell any one about this not the news cops or parents ok * * * so [I] guess this is goodbye my love.” B.K. did not receive this message until after the shootings when she returned home from school.
Approximately six months after the shootings, the Stearns County Juvenile Court certified McLaughlin to stand trial as an adult. McLaughlin appealed the certification to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which affirmed the certification order. The parties then agreed to a bifurcated bench trial in which McLaughlin would stipulate to guilt in the second-degree murder of Rollins during the trial’s first phase and would attempt to prove a mental illness defense during the second phase. There was no stipulation as to Bartell. At the close of the first phase, the district court found McLaughlin guilty of first-degree murder in Bartell’s death, second-degree murder in Rollins’ death, and possession of a dangerous weapon on school property. In the second phase, the court heard testimony from six mental health experts—three retained by McLaughlin, one by the state, and two by the court.
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