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Milwaukee teachers accused of cover up for accidental shooting in a school

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 19:05:36-04

MILWAUKEE — Two teachers on Milwaukee’s south-side are accused of trying to cover up an accidental shooting inside St. Josaphat parish school back in April.

Teachers are mandatory reporters of ‘child maltreatment’ instances, however, prosecutors said the teachers waited a week to report the shooting.

One of the teachers allegedly told police she was concerned about what would happen to the school and to the janitor who fired the gun if the situation became known. Prosecutors claim one teacher said "I don't like this, I feel like it's a cover-up" several days after not notifying police or school administration.

"It sounded like a gun, I knew it was a gun, but they said it was a ball that exploded," said student Kaythlyn Matute.

A few weeks after the incident, TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke with the 12-year-old student. Matute was suspicious that teachers weren’t telling them the truth.

"They probably knew about it, but didn’t want to tell us so we didn’t get scared," she said.

Authorities said former school janitor Heriberto Martin admitted to bringing a handgun to work to fix it with tools. He told police that his gun discharged while he was doing so, "coming through a wall approximately one foot from one student's head, traveling through a second student's jacket and backpack, and finally striking a third student in the side, where it luckily caused only a small red mark," read the criminal complaint.

Prosecutors said two teachers knew about the shooting, but at first Lisa Sarenac and Carolyn Trawitzki allegedly told parents of the children involved "that an 'unknown' object caused the injuries, and that the school would compensate the families for any damage."

"I would be nervous to have my children in their care," said Dawn Schmidt, whose niece goes to St. Josaphat Parish School.

Schmidt’s niece goes to St. Josaphat Parish School.

"I think maybe she or whoever heard the shots should have reported it," she said. "The parents should have been notified, those kids were in danger."

Trawitzki used to be the school principal, but she was serving as a substitute teacher on the day of the shooting. Her lawyer sent TODAY'S TMJ4 a document they've filed in court which reads, "She will be taking quick responsibility for her role and will be pleading guilty to the charge as issued."

Both teachers have been charged with misdemeanors. They’re due in court in the coming weeks.