2003 Rocori High School shooting

Coordinates: 45°27′48″N 94°25′42″W / 45.46333°N 94.42833°W / 45.46333; -94.42833
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2003 Rocori High School shooting
Part of school shootings in the United States
LocationCold Spring, Minnesota, U.S.
DateSeptember 24, 2003; 19 years ago (2003-09-24)
Attack type
School shooting, double-murder
Weapons.22-caliber Colt pistol
  • Seth Bartell
  • Aaron Rollins
PerpetratorJohn Jason McLaughlin
DefenderMark Johnson
MotiveRetaliation to alleged bullying
VerdictGuilty on both counts
SentenceLife imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 33 years, consecutive sentence of 12 years in prison
LitigationWrongful death lawsuit against perpetrator's family and school district settled for $200,000

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 15 year-old freshman John Jason McLaughlin,[2] who murdered 14-year-old freshman Seth Bartell and 17-year-old senior Aaron Rollins. Prior to the shooting, McLaughlin was described as "quiet and withdrawn".[3]


McLaughlin (born July 19, 1988) 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, but 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]

Legal proceedings[edit]

McLaughlin's photo when he was booked following the shooting.

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 is currently 34 years-old and was incarcerated at Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater,[21] and is currently at Minnesota Correctional Facility – Oak Park Heights.[22] He will not be eligible for parole until 2038, when he will be 50 years-old.

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 Staska.[23] 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.[24] The lawsuit was initially dismissed,[25][26] but later settled out of court for $200,000.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmersheim, Joseph (December 28, 2012). "Cooper teacher shares experience of Rocori High School shooting". Minnesota Sun Post. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  2. ^ Lebrun, Marcel (2008). Books, Blackboards, and Bullets: School Shootings and Violence in America. R&L Education. p. 178. ISBN 978-1578868667.
  4. ^ "BOY WAS TEASED ABOUT ACNE, NEIGHBORS SAY THEY DESCRIBE HIM AS 'GOOD KID, NO TROUBLE'". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. September 25, 2003. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "FATHER: GUN KEPT IN DRESSER MCLAUGHLIN USED PISTOL THAT WAS TO BE HANDED DOWN". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 12, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  6. ^ Chalmers, Phil (2009). Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer. Thomas Nelson. p. 89. ISBN 978-1595551528. Jason McLaughlin bullying.
  7. ^ "Teen Charged With Second-degree Murder In Cold Spring Shooting". The Bryan Times. September 26, 2003. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  8. ^ "Teen charged with murder in school shooting". The Mount Airy News. September 27, 2003. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  9. ^ "Boy Shot In Forehead .Teen Injured In Cold Spring School shooting still critical". The Southeast Missourian. September 28, 2003. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  10. ^ "TOWN'S FINAL, TRAGIC WORD SECOND SHOOTING VICTIM DIES AFTER TRAUMATIC DAY". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. October 11, 2003. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  11. ^ "MCLAUGHLIN'S TRIAL UNDER WAY LAWYERS DIFFER ON CENTRAL QUESTION OF INTENT". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 6, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  12. ^ Post, Tim. "Graphic testimony in first day of McLaughlin trial". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved July 12, 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 July 12, 2013.
  14. ^ "Teen convicted of murder in Rocori High School shootings". MPR. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  15. ^ "McLaughlin gets consecutive sentences in Rocori shootings". mpr. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  16. ^ "Sane or not? Opinions vary by psychologist". Kare 11. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  17. ^ "Teen Killer Ruled Sane". CBS News. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  18. ^ "JUDGE DECLARES ROCORI KILLER SANE MCLAUGHLIN'S DEFENSE REJECTED; AUG. 30 PRISON SENTENCING SET". St. Paul Pioneer Press. July 27, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  19. ^ "Juvenile Sentenced to Life for Shooting Classmates". Fox News. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  20. ^ "Jason McLaughlin sentenced to life in Rocori killings". Kare 11. August 31, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  21. ^ "Inmate Records: JOHN JASON MCLAUGHLIN". Minnesota Department of Corrections. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  22. ^ Edwards, Eve (April 21, 2021). "Who Are Oak Park Heights' Famous Prison Inmates? Derek Chauvin Transferred To Facility". HITC.com. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  23. ^ "Families of Rocori victims are suing". Star-Tribune. October 4, 2006. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  24. ^ "Attorney for Rocori school district calls allegations 'baseless'". MPR. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  25. ^ "Minn. Judge: Insurer Not Required to Cover Shooter". Insurance Journal. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  26. ^ "Judge Throws Out Rocori Wrongful Death Lawsuit". Cold Springs Record. May 15, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  27. ^ "LAWSUIT SETTLED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING PARENTS OF TWO VICTIMS WOULD SPLIT $200,000". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved July 12, 2013.

External links[edit]

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