Rocori High School shooting

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McLaughlin's photo when he was booked following the shooting.
Rocori High School Shooting
LocationCold Spring, Minnesota, U.S.
DateSeptember 24, 2003
Attack type
School shooting
Weapons.22-caliber pistol
PerpetratorJohn Jason McLaughlin

The Rocori High School shooting was a school shooting that occurred at Rocori High School on September 24, 2003 in Cold Spring, Minnesota, United States.[1] The shooter was identified as Rocori High freshman John Jason McLaughlin,[2] who shot and killed 15-year-old freshman Seth Bartell and 17-year-old senior Aaron Rollins. Prior to the shooting, McLaughlin was described as a "quiet and withdrawn" student with severe acne.[3]


On September 24, 2003, McLaughlin arrived at school with a loaded Colt .22-caliber handgun with the intention of killing Bartell, whom McLaughlin claimed bullied him over his acne.[4][5] McLaughlin met Bartell and Rollins as they were exiting the school locker room.[6] He shot at Bartell, hitting him in the chest. McLaughlin fired a second shot at Bartell, which missed and hit Rollins in the neck, killing him instantly. Bartell attempted to flee the scene, but was followed by McLaughlin, who fired another shot at Bartell, hitting him in the forehead.[7] Gym coach Mark Johnson then confronted McLaughlin, who initially brandished the gun at Johnson and then emptied the bullets from the gun and dropped it. Johnson secured the gun and took McLaughlin to the school office.[8]

Bartell was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital, where he was treated for severe head and brain trauma.[9] Bartell died 16 days later, on October 11, 2003.[10]


The trial began on July 5, 2005.[11] The defense argued that McLaughlin did not plan to kill anyone and that the teen had only intended to scare Bartell.[12] The prosecution argued that the deaths were premeditated, as McLaughlin had stated to police that he had planned the shooting "several days in advance".[13] Six mental health experts were brought in to testify in court.[13] Three of the experts diagnosed McLaughlin with schizophrenia while the other three diagnosed him with major depression in remission and an "emerging personality disorder".[13]

McLaughlin was found guilty of first and second-degree murder.[14]


In August 2005, he was sentenced with two consecutive prison sentences. McLaughlin was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and 12 years in prison for second-degree murder.[15] Prior to the sentences, McLaughlin's attorneys attempted to have him declared insane at the time of the shootings,[16] which would have resulted with McLaughlin serving his sentence at a mental hospital rather than a correctional facility.[17] The Judge ruled that McLaughlin was sane at the time of the killings based on McLaughlin's writings and videotaped confession, where he detailed his planning of the crime.[18][19] McLaughlin was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $15,000 to the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board.[20]

Jason McLaughlin was incarcerated at Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater.[21] He will not be eligible for parole until 2038.

Wrongful death lawsuit[edit]

In September 2006 the families of victims Aaron Rollins and Seth Bartell filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the McLaughlins, the Rocori school district, and former Rocori High School Principal Doug Standke.[22] The families alleged that the school district had prior knowledge of the shootings about a week before their occurrence and that they could have prevented its occurrence.[23] The lawsuit was initially dismissed,[24][25] but later settled out of court for $200,000.[26]


  1. ^ Palmersheim, Joseph (December 28, 2012). "Cooper teacher shares experience of Rocori High School shooting". Minnesota Sun Post. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  2. ^ Lebrun, Marcel (2008). Books, Blackboards, and Bullets: School Shootings and Violence in America. R&L Education. p. 178. ISBN 1578868661.
  4. ^ "BOY WAS TEASED ABOUT ACNE, NEIGHBORS SAY THEY DESCRIBE HIM AS 'GOOD KID, NO TROUBLE'". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. September 25, 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  5. ^ "FATHER: GUN KEPT IN DRESSER MCLAUGHLIN USED PISTOL THAT WAS TO BE HANDED DOWN". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 12, 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  6. ^ Chalmers, Phil (2009). Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer. Thomas Nelson. p. 89. ISBN 1595551522. Jason McLaughlin bullying.
  7. ^ "Teen Charged With Second-degree Murder In Cold Spring Shooting". The Bryan Times. Sep 26, 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Teen charged with murder in school shooting". The Mount Airy News. Sep 27, 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Boy Shot In Forehead .Teen Injured In Cold Spring School shooting still critical". The Southeast Missourian. Sep 28, 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  10. ^ "TOWN'S FINAL, TRAGIC WORD SECOND SHOOTING VICTIM DIES AFTER TRAUMATIC DAY". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. October 11, 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  11. ^ "MCLAUGHLIN'S TRIAL UNDER WAY LAWYERS DIFFER ON CENTRAL QUESTION OF INTENT". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 6, 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  12. ^ Post, Tim. "Graphic testimony in first day of McLaughlin trial". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  13. ^ a b c Kapoor, Reena; Charles C. Dike (March 2008). "Adolescents and the Insanity Defense". J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 36 (1): 145–147. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Teen convicted of murder in Rocori High School shootings". MPR. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  15. ^ "McLaughlin gets consecutive sentences in Rocori shootings". mpr. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Sane or not? Opinions vary by psychologist". Kare 11. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Teen Killer Ruled Sane". CBS News. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  18. ^ "JUDGE DECLARES ROCORI KILLER SANE MCLAUGHLIN'S DEFENSE REJECTED; AUG. 30 PRISON SENTENCING SET". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 27, 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Juvenile Sentenced to Life for Shooting Classmates". Fox News. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Jason McLaughlin sentenced to life in Rocori killings". Kare 11. Aug 31, 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  21. ^ "Inmate Records: JOHN JASON MCLAUGHLIN". Minnesota Department of Corrections. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Families of Rocori victims are suing". Star-Tribune. October 4, 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  23. ^ "Attorney for Rocori school district calls allegations 'baseless'". MPR. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  24. ^ "Minn. Judge: Insurer Not Required to Cover Shooter". Insurance Journal. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  25. ^ "Judge Throws Out Rocori Wrongful Death Lawsuit". Cold Springs Record. May 15, 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  26. ^ "LAWSUIT SETTLED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING PARENTS OF TWO VICTIMS WOULD SPLIT $200,000". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 12 July 2013.

See also[edit]

External links and sources[edit]

Coordinates: 45°27′48″N 94°25′42″W / 45.46333°N 94.42833°W / 45.46333; -94.42833