Eric Hainstock Gets Life in Prison for Shooting Death of Principal

Eric Hainstock, the 16-year-old Wisconsin boy who armed himself, entered his high school, and fatally shot his principal in 2006, was convicted by a jury on Thursday night of first-degree intentional homicide and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years.

HainstockAccording to the Associated Press, “Sauk County Circuit Judge Patrick Taggart handed down 16-year-old Eric Hainstock’s sentence one day after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the death of Weston Schools Principal John Klang last fall. Klang’s wife, Sue, told the judge that Klang was her high school sweetheart and that life without him is ‘horror, agony, emptiness, despair.’ She called Hainstock callous. ‘The only one who hasn’t shed a tear is Eric,’ she said. A life sentence is mandatory in first-degree murder convictions in Wisconsin. But after listening to Klang’s family and pleas from Hainstock’s attorneys, Taggart said the teen could apply for parole in 30 years. The judge also recommended that the Department of Corrections place Hainstock at a juvenile facility and that he take anger management classes.”

In May, as Hainstock plead “not guilty” I posted that the homicide received attention because it came after what Hainstock claims were years of abuse at the hands of his family and repeating bullying at school, harassment which school officials continually refused to recognize. Hainstock and supporters claimed that the shooting was a plea for attention gone terribly wrong:

“Hainstock said that a group of kids had teased him by calling him ‘fag’ and ‘faggot’ and rubbing up against him, the complaint said, and the teen felt teachers and the principal wouldn’t do anything about it. So Hainstock decided to confront students, teachers and the principal with the guns to make them listen to him, according to the complaint.”

Klang was shot in the back of the head, chest, and leg. While wounded, he reportedly wrestled Hainstock to the ground. He died later that afternoon.

The jury deliberated for 6 1/2 hours before returning their verdict.

You may have missed…
Wisconsin Teen Pleads Not Guilty in Principal’s Murder [tr]


  1. Jamie C. says

    30 years to life for reacting like anyone in his position would after a lifetime of abuse and torture. And the parents and teachers who turned a blind eye to his situation get to go home at the end of the day. An American soldier just got 15 years for killing a handicapped Iraqi civilian…I guess that means that their lives have a lesser value than American high school principals?

    What a shame to put a child into a prison with adults. Shame on America! Sick, if you ask me!

  2. Derrick from Philly says

    Many people who’ve been through what Eric went through have fantasized doing what he did. I know I did. I know some will say, “it’s still premeditated murder,” well, yeah, and what Eric endured was premeditated torture. The principal lost his life and that’s a horrible loss to his wife and family; but you can’t stand by and watch a child being tortured in your care (school property) and do nothing about it.

    It takes a lot to get gay people to the point of killing someone (in the closet or dl homos, yes, but gay people, no). I’ve always been amazed that more gay men suffering in the last stages of AIDS still never picked up a gun and went after those who continued to torment and torture them. We got our faults like anybody else, but we’re more humane…well, most of us.

  3. WizardBoy says

    I live in Wisconsin and this case received lots of attention. Never did I hear that Eric **IS** gay. Kids use the term “fag” and “faggot” as an all-too-accepted invective. For Shame!

    Eric was abused by his peers by their actions — and by his teachers and principal for their lack of action. However, I never did read that Eric is in fact gay.

    Being gay, I feel for Eric. I was abused by my peers as Eric was, and as a youth I felt I had no recourse at the time. Now as an adult, I wonder what would have happened had I had access to guns in my home.

    Despite the old rhyme, names do hurt!

  4. Gregoire says

    We all managed to survive bullying in school without resorting to murder. I dont feel for him at all. Roast in hell, you bastard!

  5. You Suck says

    Gregoire: We may no longer be in junior high, but everybody is still laughing at you.

  6. beergoggles says

    I’ve always wondered why gay kids who commit suicide due to harassment don’t take a few of their tormentors with them when they go. You’d think after Columbine, any kind of harassment would be taken seriously and nipped in the bud without letting it get out of hand like this. They’re doomed to keep repeating the mistakes of the past as long folks refuse to learn from them I guess.

    Is it the childhood torture that turns so many ‘mos into bitter queens?

  7. says

    I have never thought about murdering those that tormented me as a kid. It always just drove me to just be better and do better. I think it is sad that anyone would get to that point and that anyone had those feelings. There are so many other outlets for feelings. Sad.

  8. the queen says

    Who amongst us can cast stones? I truly feel sorry for the kid. It’s a shame no one could help him. The school administration should be held accountable. How many more people must suffer and even be killed until school administrations everywhere make rules banning this kind of homophobic hazing?

  9. Pam says

    kids are expected to endure so much more than adults and aren’t supposed to snap. Would an adult in a workplace situation be expected to put up with the things that Eric put up with at school? Head put in a toilet, head slammed into a locker, hot sauce poured down his throat, slurs, bullying everyday etc, etc,. NO. There are laws in place when this happenes to an adult, restraining orders and assualt charges, and workplace discrimination laws. No adult would put up with this abuse and bullying for 1 day, let alone 15 years. Eric’s father was charged with felony child abuse when he was 10, but was let off the hook by the same judge. This is the most unjust case I’ve seen. Another child crushed by the adult criminal justice system. Why are kids supposed to endure endless abuse and bullying and adults can call the police and get some action against their tormentors? Why does our society hold kids to a much higher standard of conduct? Why do we hate our children so much in the country? Why do we care so little about our children? Why is he now a piece of trash to be thrown away to rot? Our criminal justice system has turned into a vengeance machine for the victims.

  10. Nikk says

    These responses floor me. Do you people actually read what you are typing? This bastard went and KILLED someone. There is no excuse for that. Are you kidding me? So he got teased by other kids. Boo hoo.cry me a river. Who hasnt been teased? You get over it. But i read that other kids who got teased should do the same thing? AIDS patients should go on a shooting spree? What ever happend to adversity making you stronger? This kid is a coward and deserves every minute in jail. The rest of you are beyond pathetic for your attempt to justify cold blooded homicide.

  11. says

    when i was teased i always had the they are going to be poor they are stupid and ugly and fat and i will be gorgeous wealthy and humilitae them i never beleived in violence. I finally got amouth senior year and dresdes perfection every day ala posh beckham ONe girl said something to me knowing she was bipolar i said why dont you kill yourself im sure you already tried take your lithium,
    I aslo said in ten years youll be syaong paper of plastic to me

    My favorite comeback was Im a size 2 you dont see girls in rehab trying to lok like you

    I recoment gay kids to do that realistically the kids teasing you will be nobodys

  12. Gregoire says

    Thank you Nikk, I thought I was going insane.

    He murdered his principal in cold blood. There is no excuse, absolutely none. I’m sorry, this is not a ‘burning bed’ situation. What this asshole experienced in his daily life is done so by hundreds of people every day.

    That is no excuse to kill somebody, in a pre-meditative fashion.

    And has been said — we dont know if the kid is gay or not, like that even matters.

    He’s about to experience a whole lot worse a few abusive insults.

  13. Tim says

    Nikk you don’t seem to have endured an american middle school as gay have you? It really does get so bad you want to end it. Your utterly alone, you can’t talk to anyone, no one seems to care and you are kept as the butt of every joke in the school. besides the gun went off as he was having it wrestled away, i think the punishment is too harsh for what appears to be manslaughter, by a 16 year old child. I’ve known adults to get shorter terms for worse.

  14. Rightous Indignation says

    No amount of teasing justifies murder..sorry, but it does not. Whereas I can certainly empathize with him and his struggles, it is certainly no different than any ethnic/fat/ugly/not part of the group teasing that goes on. (or are some people trying to say that teasing someone because they are gay is worse than any other teasing?). As cold as it might be, sometime you have to view things objectively and not from the “this reminds me when I was in high school”. With that logic any non-white non-straight teen has a mitigating circumstance….

  15. dizzyspins says

    oh grow the hell up! We have become such a society of victimization that we need to defend someone who cold-bloodly kills an innocent person. He doesnt claim they tortured him–do you even know what that word means?! He claims they called him names and “rubbed up against him.” I got called fag, i got teased–and even got beat up once or twice. So now do i have a license to track down those guys, 20 years later and kill them in their sleep? Maybe he shoulda done what i did–develop a wicked wit and insult them right back. If this kid is gay, im ashamed to share the same sexuality as him.

  16. Nikko says

    I agree that we must not rationalize his victim status, regardless of his past or his perceived sexuality. His abused past had nothing to do with the principal, period.The kid is guilty. Why didn’t he just try to punch the shit out of his enemies instead of murder??!…no excuse. Whatever happened to being responsible for one’s behaviour?
    Besides, it’s the year 2007. the world is a lot more gay-tolerant….I don’t think you can compare the homophobia of today to that of 20-30 years ago. Own up to your life and actions. What an idiot. Did he actually think he would get away with a not guilty plea for murdering someone?!!

  17. DEEJ says

    Some facts are being misconstrued. Eric was actually the bully. He would pick on and bully classmates and then go to the school staff to say he was the one being picked on. He tried to manipulate the judicial system by using “I was a victim” and retaliated by not killing his supposed tormentors but instead the principal who tried to help him. Trust me, there are plenty of incidents where kids are teased and bullied to their snapping point but this is simply not one of them. And finally, murder is murder. He’s guilty!

  18. Brian says

    Nope, sorry guys. No excuse. He gunned down the principal in cold blood.

    Honey, if I could grow up in Oklahoma and manage to restrain myself from killing all those twee little Baptists that were forever taunting me, then this kid could have stuck it out a little longer until he got to college.

    Hainstock’s a pussy.

  19. Derrick from PHilly says

    Eric: I woke up this morning about 4:00am, and one of the first things I thought about was your comment on the Hainstock case. Your message was sincere and mature. I appreciate it. I’m still very emotional about Eric Hainstock’s situation, and I still empathize with his torment; but I realize that your advise is the best for all young gay people to heed–if they can. Eric Hainstock had no one to turn to for help or guidance. He was alone.

    Thanks for your correct advice, Eric

  20. shane says

    I don’t condone murder (if this was even that – sounds more like manslaughter to me), but some kids just can’t take the constant harassment. Having adults in charge who condone and in some cases participate in the harassment can drive these kids to do terrible things.

    To those of you who said he “gunned him down in cold blood” – did you even bother to read the account of what happened or are you just spouting your bullshit? The principal was shot during a struggle.

  21. Jamie says

    Pam-We call them “bitchy queens”. Most of them grew up in urban areas and never had to experience bullying as Eric and I have both.