Principal John Klang is seen in a photo, at right, on the wall at Weston High School, where he was fatally shot. ((Morry Gash/AP))

The principal of a rural Wisconsin school was shot several times Friday morning,dying from his injuries several hours later.

John Klang, 49, was taken by helicopter from Reedsburg Area Medical Center to UW Hospitals in Madison in critical condition, but efforts to save him were unsuccessful.

Witnesses reported that a student walked in with a shotgun before classes began. A custodian, teachers and students wrestled with him, but he broke through, took out a handgun and shot Klang three times, Sauk County Sheriff Randy Stammen said.

Junior Timmy Donovan said the student "pulled a .22 pistol out of his pants, and then started shooting the principal. And at that point, I guess the principal ran and tackled him to the ground."

Shelly Rupp, 16,said she heard five shots and ran out of the school, but turned around and saw Klang as he was shot.


Custodian Dave Thompson describes how he took a shotgun away from the suspect in a school shooting on Friday. ((Morry Gash/AP))

"He was … on the ground in the hallway," the sophomore said at a nearby gas station, where students and townspeople gathered following the shooting.

"He had just a pile of blood by his leg."

A 15-year-old boy was taken into police custody.

Rupp described the shooter as a freshman with few friends.

"He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids," she added.

No motive was known, authorities said.

Middle and elementary students were sent home, although some students remained at the school as part of the sheriff department's investigation.

The shooting took place two days after a gunman took six students hostage in a Colorado high school and killed one before shooting himself.

Rupp said Klang was a good principal and always listened to his students.

The shooting happened as the school was preparing for homecoming weekend.All homecoming activities — including a parade, a football game and dance — have been cancelled.

With files from the Associated Press