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2 teachers charged after 10-year-old injured in school shooting

Two St. Josaphat Parish School teachers face charges after a shooting injured a student.

The shooting happened at the school April 5.

Teachers Lisa Sarenac, 52, and Carolyn Trawitzki, 67, were charged with one count each of failure to report child abuse or neglect.

Prosecutors have charged former school janitor Heriberto Martin, 59, with possessing a gun on school grounds.

He admitted to police that he took his .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol to the school because he wanted to use his work tools to fix an issue with the gun’s slide.

Investigations said while he was working on the gun, it went off.

A teacher told police she heard a gunshot and realized a bullet entered her classroom “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,” according to an affidavit.

The injured student was a 10-year-old girl who suffered a bruise.

Trawitzki said she and Sarenac looked at the student’s injury and told her mother about it but did not say the girl was hit by a bullet.

According to criminal complaints filed against the two, Sarenac planned to tell the parents of the second and third students involved that an “unknown” object caused the injury and the school would pay the families for any damage.

A teacher told police she witnessed Sarenac tell the parents that story after school.

A detective said a teacher reported that Sarenac texted the teacher a few days later and said the situation seemed to have blown over.

A complaint states that on April 10, the unnamed teacher had another conversation with Sarenac and told Sarenac that she needed to report the shooting to school administrators so they could call police.

The teacher told investigators Sarenac was hesitant to report the shooting to school administrators and police because she was afraid of the consequences Martin might face.

Sarenac admitted to not notifying school officials or the police about the shooting and lying to students’ parents about what actually happened, the complaint states.

The concerned teacher who spoke with investigators said she told Sarenac, “I don’t like this, I feel like it’s a cover-up,” and convinced Sarenac to report the incident.

Sarenac told police she eventually told the school’s head priest about the shooting on April 12, a week after it happened.

The head priest told police he later learned a student was struck by the bullet and filed an additional report on April 17.

The complaint states Trawitzki said she told Sarenac to report the incident to the head priest, but Sarenac told police Trawitzki told her not to do anything.

Investigators said Sarenac reported that Trawitzki took petty cash from the school, went to Target on her lunch break and bought a gift card for the parents of the student whose jacket and backpack were shot.

The complaint states Sarenac and Trawitzki were charged because they are mandatory reporters of instances of child maltreatment and had an obligation to protect the students.

If convicted, they each face a fine of up to $1,000 and not more than six months in prison, or both.

Martin faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

He was fired from the school.

The school has not said whether Sarenac or Trawitzki faced disciplinary action.

Sam Brink

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