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Prosecutors allege former RFHS student threatened school violence

River Falls High School was named as a potential target for a school shooting by a man in police custody in Oshkosh this past winter.

Christopher K. Mariana, 24, had been incarcerated at the Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC) in Oshkosh. WRC is a state prison that specializes in treatment for inmates "in need of specialized mental health services," according to the WRC website.

In late December 2017, Mariana allegedly wrote "The world will remember my name" and "a person can only take so much" on an interview request slip, according to a Winnebago County criminal complaint.

Mariana allegedly told jail staff he planned to "get weapons and guns" when he was released, and "kill people" at River Falls High School.

Mariana had been sentenced to 48 months in prison and 24 months extended supervision at a probation revocation hearing in September 2013 stemming from a felony burglary conviction.

As of April 2017, Mariana was serving a prison sentence on the probation revocation.

WRC staff reported the threat to police. River Falls and Oshkosh police departments started a joint investigation in February.

According to the Oshkosh police report, Mariana told police he had a "hit list" of specific people he wanted to kill at RFHS because he had been bullied there.

In a confession recorded in the police report, Mariana said he had the assault timed out.

"I know the police would be called by the liaison officer after about one minute 30 seconds in," Mariana said. "I know the nearest SWAT team isn't in that town, but the next, it would probably take eight more minutes to get to the school.

"I would take hostages on the second floor balcony by then. Then it would be suicide by cop, but I could take probably 20 or 30 people with me."

When asked, Marianna told police the "hit list" and all his plans were not written out, but were all in his head.

He also threatened a specific individual and his family, according to the police report.

Mariana shouted threatening statements for at least 10 minutes in the interview with police, the report stated.

Felony charges for Mariana were referred to the Winnebago County District Attorney's Office for making terroristic threats.

According to Winnebago County Deputy District Attorney Scott A. Ceman and the official court record, after pretrial discussion between prosecution and defense, the charge against Mariana was amended to disorderly conduct. The charge includes a joint recommendation from prosecution and defense to 12 months probation.

To convict a person of terroristic threats in Wisconsin, the prosecution must prove that the defendant "intended to cause evacuation or public panic, when he made the statements." According to the record, the state was "no longer confident it could prove" that.

A mental health evaluation found that Mariana did not "pose significant risk to self or others if released."

Mariana was convicted, by no-contest plea, of disorderly conduct April 27. He received 12 months probation. The terms of his probation forbid him from contacting RFHS students or staff in person, by telephone, by email or via electronic advice. This applies to direct contact or contact through third parties, according to Wisconsin Department of Corrections Communication Director, Tristan Cook. Cook said Mariana's probation also includes standard probation terms, which include a measure requiring Mariana to recieve permission to own or carry a "firearm or other weapon or ammunition."  Standard probation rules also state that offenders may not be given permission to possess a firearm if it's probited by law. 

River Falls Police Chief Gordon Young said Mariana was released from custody after the conclusion of his court case regarding the threats.

Young said the threat was credible, but that there is not cause for immediate concern. The high school has also been working with police.

"The high school continues to be an active partner with the police department," Young said. "We have a strong working relationship in collaborating information and meet throughout the year to review security concerns and procedures."

District Superintendent Jamie Benson said the district has "taken measures to proactively address this matter."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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