Austin Police Department, administrators recall ‘chaotic’ scene

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Officer James Lunt, center, stands after being given a standing ovation during Monday’s Austin City Council meeting at City Hall.  Jason Schoonover/

Officer James Lunt, center, stands after being given a standing ovation during Monday’s Austin City Council meeting at City Hall. Jason Schoonover/

School thanks Lunt, department for handling of AHS fight

One week after a large fight at Austin High School, administrators went before the Austin City Council Monday to thank the Austin Police Department and others involved that the incident wasn’t any worse.

“They’re professionalism and expertise was truly remarkable,” AHS Principal Katie Baskin said of emergency responders.

Around 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 28, Officer James Lunt was one of the first people on scene of the fight, which broke out on the west side outside the school and spilled into the building and included dozens of people. Lunt, who was patrolling the south side of the school heard, and saw the fight break out.

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“[I saw] students running from the school in fear of something when I got there,” said Lunt, who was struck on the head during the ordeal. “Again, with as many people that were involved in that, it was completely chaotic.”

Lunt has been the AHS liason officer for three years and hasn’t seen anything comparable in his time at the school. He described it as a critical event that was chaotic and violent.

“It opened everybody’s eyes up,” Lunt said.

Baskin praised Lunt for keeping students safe.

“He is the reason that the incident on Monday was so quickly resolved, and for that we are forever grateful,” Baskin said.

Lunt was quick to point out that many people within the department helped out and didn’t accept all the credit himself.

Lunt praised administration for being strong partners in keeping the kids safe.

“They truly, truly care about the safety of these kids,” Lunt said.

Baskin also thanked Chief Brian Krueger and all there other agencies for their support in responding to the incident.

“Last Monday was an abnormal event at Austin High School, but in under four minutes we had the support of officers, detectives, sheriff’s office and Gold Cross staff,” Baskin said. “While we know that this is what these wonderful individuals are trained to do, their professionalism and expertise were truly remarkable. They took a chaotic situation and made sense of it all. They allowed us to do our jobs, and they kept the safety of our students and staff at the forefront of everything they did.”

She also was thankful to Mower County Attorney Kristen Nelsen and her staff for keeping the adults involved accountable.

The fight happened on the first day of homecoming week, but Basking said Lunt and the department’s handwork helped everyone return to a sense of normalcy and security.

New security measures were put in place, and Lunt thanked the students for their understanding and cooperation.

“Every student accepted the new security measures that we put in place,” he said.

Lunt said they may review policies and procedures after the fight to see if anything could be done differently in the future, but overall he was happy with everyone’s response to the incident.

On Monday, Lunt was happy to see the school return to normal after a tumultuous week.

“Students were learning and there was absolutely no incidents or anything that I needed to respond to,” he said.