Brady Esser was named as the officer at Waukesha South High School who shot a student, later identified as Tyrone Smith. A 17-year-old boy was refusing to put down a gun, which officers later realized was a pellet gun, police said at a press conference.
Some initial reports said the officer who shot the student was a school resource officer, but those reports were inaccurate. Esser agreed to the release of his name because media outlets were questioning the school resource officer at his home, police said during the news conference.
Esser is married with five children. His father was also a cop. Esser made headlines in January when he investigated a strange case that prompted the attention of the New York Post.
Just days before the shooting, school officials sent out an email to staff and parents reminding them to talk to students about school violence and threats, urging parents to check their student’s backpacks before sending them off to school, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A few minutes after 10 a.m. Monday, December 2, 2019, a student reported the teen suspect had a gun and held it to his head. The suspect refused to take his hands out of his pocket and pointed the gun at officers, prompting Esser to shoot. The suspect was injured, but survived. He was taken to a hospital for treatment. Tuesday afternoon, he remained in the intensive care unit at a hospital following surgery, police said.
Waukesha, Wisconsin is a suburb of Milwaukee.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Brady Esser Is An 11-Year Veteran With Waukesha Police Who Shot a Student Who Had a Pellet Gun
Brady Esser, a Waukesha Police Department sergeant, rushed to a classroom Monday, December 2, 2019 where a 17-year-old student was reported to have a gun. Police responded to information from students, which indicated the teen had a gun and had pointed it at another student’s head. Once police were in the classroom, the student refused to put down the gun and pointed it at officers, prompting Esser to fire shots. Police then rushed to give the student first aid, putting tourniquets on his arm and leg to stop the bleeding, police said during a press conference Tuesday.
“We have him at gunpoint,” an officer said on the police scanner. “He won’t take his hands out of his pocket.”
The student was shot once in the right leg and twice in the right arm. He had surgery at a hospital, and was listed in stable condition Tuesday, police said during the press conference.
When asked what motivated the student to bring pellet guns to school, Capt Dan. Baumann told reporters, “He was angry.” He specified the suspect was mad at the student he pointed a gun at.
“If you look at that muzzle, and I know people are going to say, ‘oh you can tell the difference between a pellet gun and a real gun,’ you can’t. I will get 100 firearm experts to look at that and 100 will say that’s a firearm,” Baumann said.
Esser is a sergeant with the department. He was promoted to his rank in August, 2017, according to a Facebook post from the police department.
“The Waukesha Police Department would like to welcome Officer Charles Mehlberg,” the post said. “We would also like to announce the promotion of Brady Esser to the rank of Sergeant and Jerry Habanek to the rank of Lieutenant. Congratulations gentlemen!”
He was congratulated for his 10 years of service in the February 2018 Waukesha, Wisconsin employee newsletter.
Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said in a press conference Monday evening no officers and no other students were injured in the shooting.
The police department’s statement said, in part:
On Monday December 2, 2019 at approximately 10:07 am a student reported that a male student was reported to have brought a handgun to school and was currently in possession of this handgun. The School Resource Officer immediately responded to the classroom. The SRO made efforts to secure the classroom by getting other students to safety. Other officers responded to the school and began dialogue with the suspect in an attempt to deescalate the situation. The suspect would not remove his hands from his pocket and continued to ignore officers’ commands. The suspect removed the handgun from his waistband and pointed it at
An officer was forced to discharge his firearm striking the suspect. Officers immediately provided lifesaving medical attention. The remaining students were evacuated from the classroom and the school was put on LOCK DOWN.
A firearm was recovered. The suspect is a 17-year-old male. He was transported to the hospital and is in stable condition.
Police searched the student’s home and found narcotics and additional pellet guns. Waukesha Police are continuing their investigation to determine what charges, if any, will be filed. His name has not been released and he has not yet been charged. Any charges that are filed will be delayed until the student is released from the hospital, police said at the Tuesday afternoon news conference.
2. Waukesha Police Sgt. Brady Esser’s Dad, Tim Esser, Was Also a Suburban Wisconsin Cop
Waukesha Police Sgt. Brady Esser was following in his father’s footsteps when he decided to become a police officer. His father, Tim Esser, was a longtime police officer with Musekego Police Department, which is about 20 minutes from Waukesha. Tim Esser retired after 24 years with the department in 2011, according to Patch. At that time, Brady Esser had been with the Waukesha Police Department for four years.
“Esser, whose son Brady is a four-year veteran with the Waukesha Police Department, had been a member of the Muskego police department since January of 1987,” the article said. “During his time with MPD, he served as a field training officer and had also been assigned to the Waukesha County Metro Drug Unit.”
An independent police investigation will determine whether Brady Esser acted within protocol when he shot the 17-year-old student. Police said the teen was refusing to put down a gun and pointing it at officers when he was shot. It was later determined that the student had a pellet gun. The shooting will be investigated by The Milwaukee Area Investigative Team, according to a statement from the Waukesha Police Department. Waukesha Police are investigating the teens alleged criminal actions.
Police on the scene were reacting to information from a student, who reported a student had a gun and pointed it at a student’s head, according to a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The statement also said that preliminarily, it appeared Esser was acting within protocol.
The statement said:
The Milwaukee Area Investigative Team, with the City of Greenfield Police Department as the Lead Agency, is conducting the investigation.
We will not be taking any questions at this time.
Further information will be released once it has been verified.
Initial information shows that the officer acted within state statute and department policy, and fulfilled the Mission of the Waukesha Police Department, ‘A Pledge to Serve with Integrity, Honor and Courage.’
On Tuesday, police held a press conference and announced the gun was a pellet gun with the appearance of a handgun.
3. Sgt. Brady Esser Agreed to His Name Being Released After the School Resource Officer Was Incorrectly Identified as the Shooter
Waukesha Police Sgt. Brady Esser agreed to having his name released because the shooter was incorrectly identified in some media outlets as the school resource officer, according to a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
“There were reports that the SRO was the officer that was the one who discharged his firearm, as the SRO was present in the classroom,” Waukesha Police Chief Russell said during the news conference. “That report did not come from us. That misinformation being shared resulted in media outlets going to the SRO’s house, causing undue stress to him and his family. We normally do not name the officer so early in the investigation. However, because of those media outlets, Sgt. Esser preferred his name be released in order to allow other officers and their families the ability to remain within their privacy.”
Jack further asked that media respect Esser’s privacy, asking that they not ask him questions or go to his house. He commended Esser for his actions, along with the others who responded.
“I am so proud of these officers, as well as the many officers and deputies that responded to the scene,” Jack said. “Most people run away from danger. These people ran toward danger.”
4. Brady Esser Is Married With 5 Children, 2 Who Were Born Premature
Waukesha Police Sgt. Brady Esser is married with five children. His two sons were born premature. He wrote about his family in a testimonial for Herzig University, which he attended as a public safety major.
“About 11 years into my career as a police officer, I wanted to pursue a promotion,” he wrote. “But I needed to complete my bachelor’s degree in order to so. The most important driving force for me to return to school was to set a good example for my children. I wanted to show them the importance of education and that if you start something, you need to finish it.”
He wrote he faced personal challenges during his education when his sons were born premature and his wife faced a long hospitalization.
“I was faced with several challenges throughout my academic career at Herzing. Both of my boys were born premature at 30 weeks. My wife was in the hospital for several weeks at a time and the boys were in the NICU for almost two months. We also had three older children at home, and my wife and I both work full-time,” the testimonial said.
He concluded that he received his promotion while he attended school, and graduated from the university.
Waukesha South High School students heard an alert Monday morning calling for a lockdown. They ran to their classrooms and hid. Some reported hearing gunshots, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Police later determined the student had a pellet gun in his waistband and a second pellet gun in his backpack.
Police Chief Russell Jack commended the students for their response to the apparent crisis during a press conference Tuesday.
“You did exactly as you were trained. You saw something and you said something,” Jack said. “That information allowed the school resource officer (SRO), Waukesha South staff and students to react as trained and assisted in preventing the situation from spreading throughout the school, thus mitigating harm to others.”
Students shared their fear online, speaking about the horrifying experience as they hid from a student they believed had a gun, and heard gunfire.
One student wrote on Twitter, “as another student from Waukesha South, u don’t know the fear we were all going through. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it out alive. We were ALL terrified. Yes, this was another school shooting and instead of putting your opinion on it, you should send your love & prayers.”
Another student wrote on Twitter, “Waukesha South student here, we’re all shaken up but we’re slowly going home. Love all of you guys, stay safe.”
“I can’t believe that happened I never thought I would experienced something like that I was really scared when I was hiding,” one student said in a reply to the tweet.
The first student responded, “I’m pretty sure for a while we all were in shock and doubt.”
A mother in the school district told TMJ4 that seeing her son and knowing he was unharmed was an experience comparable to giving birth.
“As a mother it was kind of like giving birth all over again,” she said. “The excitement of knowing that he was fine.”
Wisconsin lawmakers were quick to release statements commending police for keeping students safe and expressing their concern for the students. Some officials used the opportunity to talk about gun control.
On Tuesday, police held a press conference and announced the gun was a pellet gun with the appearance of a handgun.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers wrote, “My heart is with the students, educators, and staff of Waukesha South High School and the entire Waukesha community as they mourn and endure the trauma of today’s shooting. I am grateful for our educators and first responders who worked quickly to keep our kids safe and ensure no one else was injured. We are continuing to learn more details about the situation this morning, but what I can say is it’s gut-wrenching that our kids wondered whether this was a drill or it was real— our kids shouldn’t have to fear for their life in our classrooms or at school, and no parent should have to send their kid off to school in the morning worrying about whether or not they’ll come home. Wisconsinites believe in helping each other in times of need, so I know we will come together to do everything we can to support the Waukesha community as they begin to heal. Today is a grim reminder that this can happen anywhere, but I do not accept—nor should we accept—that this is an inevitable reality for our kids, our communities, our state, or our country.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul wrote on Twitter, “No student should have to go through a day like the one that students at Waukesha South went through today. And no parent should have to go through a day like the one those students’ parents had today. My thoughts are with the Waukesha community and the Waukesha School District. Our Office of School Safety has reached out to offer assistance to the school district. A school resource officer and first responders helped prevent this event from potentially becoming even more tragic than it was. We thank them for their bravery and their service.”
State Representative Jodi Emerson wrote on Twitter, “I am thinking about the students and families of Waukesha South High School. We have seen school shootings become routine. They don’t have to be. I am ready to pass common sense legislation to make our communities and schools safer.”
Senator Tammy Baldwin wrote, “We are all grateful to the Waukesha South High School staff and the first responders for their quick action today to keep students safe. Please join me in sending our support to the Waukesha community.”
5. Brady Esser Made National Headlines for a Strange Case He Investigated in January, 2019 & Received Accolades in the Local Paper
The officer-involved shooting at Waukesha South High School was not the first time Sgt. Brady Esser made national headlines. In January 2019, Esser was quoted in the New York Post. On New Year’s Day, a woman found a stranger sleeping next to her 150-pound Mastiff, Benton, in the dog’s bed.
The woman who lived there and her house guest grabbed knives and called police. Esser responded to the scene and woke up the man, who he said was “heavily intoxicated.” The man lived two houses down and went into the woman’s home by mistake. The dog was adopted as a guard dog, but he did not bark when the man joined him in bed.
Esser was also commended for his thorough investigative skills when he found the owners of a gift that was found in the road. A woman on her way to a wedding left the gift on the roof of her car. A person found it, and turned it into the police department. Esser took over the case, determined to find the owners who were only listed on the gift as “John and Stacey” and lived outside of the area, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The gift was handmade by the giver, who made the present to represent a longtime friendship with the bride and groom.
“It is times like this that we realize how honesty and kindness can go a long way to benefit the community,” she told the newspaper.