Police Arrest Parent Who Handed Teacher ‘Gun’ Card

A Madison man has been arrested and banned from Shorewood Hills Elementary School after he handed a piece of cardboard with “gun” written on it to a teacher Thursday morning. Police said there was no danger to the school and didn’t speculate on what the parent’s motive was.

The Village of Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin is an upscale bedroom community on the shore of Lake Mendota, surrounded by Madison and the University of Wisconsin. On February 23, Jonathan M. Fitzgerald demonstrated his parental concern for the safety of his child to his child’s teacher and administrators. He has been arrested and banned from the school for his trouble.

Fitzgerald, a 35-year-old Ph.D candidate in molecular and cellular pharmacology, was buzzed into the school and calmly walked to his child’s classroom. There, he handed a piece of cardboard with the word “gun” written on it to his child’s teacher.

From madison.com:

A staff member followed Fitzgerald as he went down the hall to the classroom his child was in, Chapin said.

“Fitzgerald made statements to the teacher in the room about being an intruder who was allowed access to the school and gave the teacher a piece of cardboard with the word ‘gun’ on it,” (Shorewood Hills Police Chief Aaron) Chapin said.

Chapin said Fitzgerald left the classroom and went to the administrative office where he made similar statements and handed staff another piece of cardboard with “gun” written on it, then left the school building.

The report states that the police understand that there was no threat made or intended to the school or public. But the concerned father was arrested on a “tentative charge of disorderly conduct” anyway. Fitzgerald is reportedly cooperating with police.

It should be obvious to most readers that Mr. Fitzgerald was attempting to demonstrate how easily an intruder could enter the school with an actual firearm and access children in a classroom. It was done in perhaps the least intrusive way possible to make a physical demonstration.

School district authorities, however, didn’t appreciate Fitzgerald’s demonstration of the weaknesses in their security system.

I hope Mr. Fitzgerald isn’t booted from his Ph.D program for his display of parental concern. The university is reportedly “gathering more information.”


©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


  1. avatar Ropy saliva says:

    He’ll be crucified by his university.

    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      Na…. they’ turn him into some kind of hero. Since he’s a Ph.D candidate, he probably did it to prove his left wing bona fides and ensure his career progression.

      1. avatar Jim B says:

        Do you honestly believe that all educated people are leftists? It certainly sounds like you do.

        1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

          He is not a teacher, he is a Ph.D candidate in molecular and cellular pharmacology. That sounds like a working degree to me.

        2. avatar Huntmaster says:

          We are talking Madison Wisconsin aren’t we?

        3. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Do you honestly believe that all educated people are leftists? It certainly sounds like you do.”

          Jim, those educated that aren’t Leftists tend to keep their conservative leanings on the down-low if they want a chance to advance in a competitive environment.

          Because there is *nothing* more bigoted than a Leftist…

        4. avatar Rusty Chains says:

          Huntmaster is right on this, the University of Wisconsin, Madison is almost as far to the left as Berkley or perhaps even more so. This guy can say goodbye to his doctoral program, if they thought they could get away with it they would put a rope over the nearest Lamppost and hang him high, after all riding the word gun on a piece of cardboard has to be every bit as bad as biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. Leftists believe that when I child does that the child should be treated as if they had brought an actual firearm to school.

        5. avatar DAVE F says:

          For all of you that have lost sight of reality that read this let me explain this is” SARCASM”. If you missed it in the latest CNN news report let me inform you that Congress has finally passed the law that bands all items from our schools that are or imply anything about guns. Now we can all be relieved that reference to guns in any manner will no longer be in our schools. This will include, but not be limited to, all books,pictures,and any other items that make reference to guns. People you can now feel completely safe because through the law we passed guns will no longer be within the confines of our schools. Stay tuned for what we have planed next.

        6. avatar Rattlerjake says:

          Rusty Chains – Seriously? “riding the word gun”, and I’ll bet it was “spell-checker’s” fault!

      2. avatar Ropy saliva says:

        Interesting opinion. I have not seen that happen frequently in scientific and/or technical programs.

      3. avatar Patrick says:

        I’ve been accepted into a PhD program for Mechanical Engineering. Which initially interested me because I love guns.

        1. avatar Ropy saliva says:

          Best of luck to you, sir!

  2. avatar A Brit in TX says:

    It was probably an unwise thing to do in light of the current hysteria (well, media propagated hysteria!!). But, if it was done to show how easily someone can waltz into a school, then it was quite effective! It seems that nowadays, non-approved thought (like the chap in this case, or the kid biting a pizza slice into the shape of a handgun) leads to arrests and frenzied teeth-gnashing but clear and present dangerous behaviour (Florida school murderer & others) is routinely ignored. Weird.

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      I thought it was a pop tart …

      And then I thought that a pizza slice would be worse … “grease guns” are NFA items…

      1. avatar fiundagner says:

        Don’t forget about the kid who was doing math and is now facing expulsion for using the square root sign

  3. avatar st381183 says:

    I agree that this putz was out of line but WTH is a “tentative charge of disorderly conduct”? In 22 years of law enforcement I never had “tentative” probable cause. PRobable cause has to be articulated pretty well and to me the story mentions nothing about disruption or disturbance other than a little concern.

    1. avatar burley says:

      How was he out of line? Can you be specific?

    2. avatar anselhazen says:

      The POPO need to be seen as doing something.

    3. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      They are charging him with disorderly until they can come up with something else to charge him with.

      1. avatar Dev says:

        They won’t charge him with anything. He’s going to be the new poster boy for gun control.

    4. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      “Ph.D candidate in molecular and cellular pharmacology, ”

      All those smarts and not a lick of common sense.

      If he is lucky he will get off with the disorderly charge. In Kentucky, I could see him getting a “Terroristic Threatening Level 3” charge. Since the Marshall County shooting they have been handing those out like candy to students.

      1. avatar 191145 says:

        Doesn’t that strip you of your2A when you become an adult? If so, no wonder they’re handing them out like candy.

    5. avatar Fallschirmjäger says:

      947.01  Disorderly conduct.
      (1) Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
      (2) Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading a firearm, or for carrying or going armed with a firearm or a knife, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or the firearm or the knife is concealed or openly carried.

      Translation… he was arrested because 1) LE had to do Something to appease the school and 2) because he wasn’t doing anything illegal he needed to be taught a little extra-judicial lesson.
      I’ll wager that the officers called a judge who authorized the arrest (thereby relieving themselves of any liability and the judge is immune to a civil suit) and the charges will be nolle prossed by the county solicitor/prosecutor

    6. avatar Cliff H says:

      The process is the punishment.

      They’ll push this just so far, force him to pay an attorney, accept a plea for a minor misdemeanor or drop the charges all together and tell him not to write on cardboard anymore.

      Unlikely this actually goes to trial, they just want to make a big show of it so other people won’t try it (and reveal how their schools are not only soft targets, but more like Jello).

  4. avatar Uh-huh says:

    “……….Fitzgerald, a 35-year-old Ph.D candidate in molecular and cellular pharmacology, was buzzed into the school…………………”
    They aparantly(sic) knew him to “buzz” him in. what the F does he want a TSA strip search of all guest that enter the school? Remember schools are GFZ’s

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      I have been “buzzed in” to schools by people who had no idea who I was.

      You can have procedures and policies in place, and they are worthless if people don’t follow them.

      1. avatar Oh noes says:

        “I have been “buzzed in” to schools by people who had no idea who I was.

        You can have procedures and policies in place, and they are worthless if people don’t follow them.”

        Which goes to show liberal “Procedures and policies, and
        security theater are all SHIT without A GUN TO BACK THEM UP!!!

  5. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    Well, that could have gone over better…Now he’ll be the poster boy for more security…At the expense of his career, and livelihood….

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Better to be the poster boy for more school security (shame if he loses his PhD), than to be that whack-job teacher that brought in an actual pistol and fired a shot out the window in an apparent attempt to prove teachers should not be trusted with concealed weapons.

      In his case it was true, he apparently has a long history of craziness which SHOULD have removed him from the classroom altogether, but one would suspect teachers and administrators and such who apply to carry in school would be vetted enough that someone like him would not have made the cut.

  6. avatar What happened ? says:

    So many questions…..did he really think this stunt would work out well for him? Did he think the schools administrators were going to respond with “OMG !! Thanks !! We are going to change for realz now!!”?

    Did the person who buzzed him in know or recognize him? Did the person who buzzed him in have a video feed that they used to evaluate him on buzz in? Does the schools have a policy on unscheduled visits? At my kids school no adults are buzzed in without an appointment in advance. Of course this really only keeps out the law abiding.

  7. avatar Joe R. says:

    Having kids will make you nuts about another human being, without making you “nuts”.

    I kinda feel bad for the guy and the school.

    It’s the ‘irresistible force meets the immovable object’ kinda scenario. The parent was obviously greatly concerned and the option is to yank your kid out of school and do – what?

    The school had to not just ‘let it go’.

    Totally shitty situation.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      You have mellow side?! 😉

    2. avatar Ing says:

      I feel bad for the guy — he made a necessary point, but in the worst way possible.

      No need to feel bad for the school. Dealing with it without getting law enforcement involved would have been the sane and reasonable thing to do — so of course it’s exactly what they didn’t do.

      My wife got legally trespassed from our kids’ school for 6 weeks once (and this is straight from the complaint they made to the police) for “handling a clipboard in a threatening manner.” What she really did was piss off the principal by going Mama Bear in defense of our son and exposing the principal for the pansy-ass fool he was in front of the whole office and several teachers.

      Stupidly overreacting is just what most public schools do these days.

    3. avatar Frank in Spokane says:

      “the option is to yank your kid out of school and do – what?”

      Um, home school? Although you don’t have to be degrees to do so, sounds like this guy has the smarts.

      Or private school? Again, I’m thinking this guy can probably afford it.

      But public education funded by the taxpayers is Americans’ No. 1 welfare program — D or R, blue or red, left, right or middle.

      The number of “conservatives” who line up at the trough of public education is embarrassing.

  8. avatar Chadwick says:

    So what did he do wrong exactly? I guess I missed that part. Maybe just disorderly conduct for being at the school without legitimate business to be there? Sounds pretty totalitarian to arrest the guy unless he wouldn’t leave without force. Then again who am I to talk? Teachers and police can pretty much decide what is proper behavior for a parent nowadays.

    1. avatar Sid says:

      I concur.

      My assumption is the arrest was made (and made publicly) to deter others from demonstrating the inherent weakness of the security at local schools.

      1. avatar Chadwick says:

        So his crime should be honestly labeled. He committed wrongspeak.

        1. avatar Scoutino says:

          Exactly. He used the name that shall not be named in school: G – U – N!

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      Disorderly conduct is actions or speech reasonably intended (that is, that a reasonable person would know would) to annoy, disrupt or distress others in public. Definitions vary by jurisdiction, but this is the basic idea.

      The charge is fine on it’s face. One can imagine a hundred ways he could have gone about this differently, whatever his goal was. Do the same thing but instead of handing over his “gun,” write a letter to the school board, newspaper etc about how the issue is just one that comes to mind.

      Now, could one argue a 1st Amendment issue out of it? Sure. Might or might not work. Most likely he’ll settle under the agreement that he not pull such a dumb stunt again.

      1. avatar Fallschirmjäger says:

        Perhaps it would be instructive to read what the Wisconsin Legislature says is “disorderly conduct” rather than making a generalization. “… annoy, disrupt or distress others in public” are not mentioned in the State Code.
        See https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/947/01.

      2. avatar tjlarson2k says:

        Disorderly conduct is actions or speech reasonably intended (that is, that a reasonable person would know would) to annoy, disrupt or distress others in public.

        Interesting, isn’t that the definition of a Gun Free Zone? It distresses me to be forced to be unarmed in a murder zone, but I guess that’s just my problem.

    3. avatar Frank in Spokane says:

      “Sounds pretty totalitarian”

      Well, it’s an institution where attendance is compulsory, that is funded by coercion, and to whom parents surrender their parental rights every time they drop off their precious progeny, so …

  9. avatar Mr. savage says:

    my wife and I were “buzzed in” to a school that we were considering for our oldest daughter, they have never seen either of us before, and no idea why we were there till we got to the office. it’s supposed to be the most secure school in town, so how did we both gain access to that school, both with concealed pistols?

    funny how if our pistols would have been seen, we would both be felons, but if the guy in front of us would have been a spree shooter, ours would have been presented and used to defend innocent children. I venture to say law enforcement would have had a hard time saying we did anything wrong in that situation, gfz’s need to be ancient history, and parents should be welcomed to protect those children the same way we would at home, the store, or in general public, he was just making appearant that school staff can’t do shit to protect our children, drop charges and send him home.

    1. avatar AZD says:

      No offense but I can’t figure out why people choose to do things like cc in schools where they know it is a felony. If you had been caught, you risk losing your rights to even own a gun for the rest of your life. Not to mention possible jail time and fines, legal costs. But I’m sure the press coverage of the incident would be totally fair and balanced.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        Not to mention loosing the children. I quit taking chances like that (knowingly anyway) 17 years ago. Not criticizing them though, just offering my thoughts.

      2. avatar Chadwick says:

        No kidding why would you ever carry? So many of these “laws” to break and so little to gain. This is why we don’t need to bear arms… Ever. End of discussion. We can all go play WOW until the barbarians finally take us over.

        Much sarcasm implied. Laws that make you subject to evil with little chance to protect yourself, are only as important as the boot licker that chastises those who don’t recognize them. Not very.

      3. avatar Jeremy in AL says:

        It’s not illegal if you have a state cc permit, per the GFSZ act of 1990.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Depends on where you are. Many states (mine included) have a complete prohibition on guns in school zones by state law.

  10. avatar DAVE F says:

    School district authorities instead of being unappreciative of Fitzgerald’s demonstration of their weaknesses in their Security System should be thanking him. ” Disorderly Conduct ” You got to be kidding me. Perfect example of start throwing charges against the wall and hope one sticks.Fitzgerald was concerned and took action which harmed no one except showed their lack of taking steps to ensure his child’s safety.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      No doubt, they ‘need to send a message’.

    2. avatar RandomFedUpAmerican says:

      I agree with Mikial. A piece of paper with the word GUN written on it is not the least bit threatening. Anybody that thinks so is a progressive moron.

      Now, if he handed them a note that said “I am going to kill you slowly and painfully” THAT would be threatening.

      Just another public school that doesn’t want to be “schooled”. Now he will be punished for making the elite school administration look stupid. After all they have to protect their phony baloney jobs.

  11. avatar SpeleoFool says:

    Reminds me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

  12. avatar neiowa says:

    Should have written “Not a Gun”?

  13. avatar James69 says:

    on an unrelated topic I’m looking for user Greg that had the midland backpacker 18.5 in 12ga to find out what Turkey choke he’s using and how it patterned and what ammo. Got one headed my way. Thanks. You can send email so as not to clutter up the board.

  14. avatar TexasGunGal says:

    My husband and I went to a private school play last night didn’t see a single Gun Free Zone sign.
    We did see a Guard House at the Entry but wasn’t occupied since it was a weekend event.
    Accommodates both dorms for out of town and outside of country students.

  15. avatar Ogre says:

    The Madison area where this happened is a very dem/prog area (along with Milwaukee), while the rest of Wisconsin, not so much. I thought this was a rather immature stunt for the guy (who is supposed to be smart enough to be a Ph.D candidate) to pull. If he thought school security was ineffective, why didn’t he just write the school board a letter stating that (with a copy to the local dem/prog papers, the State Journal and the Capital Times)? IMHO, that would have gotten their attention sufficiently, and he now would not have charges against him or be a target for the UofW’s PC inquisitors. In 1969, the UofW was deemed the most radical school in America, beating out even UC Berkely, and it hasn’t really changed much. If they discover this guy even had a thought with a gun in it, much less symbolically writing it out on a card, he’s toast, and can think about going to work at the local lube rack.

    1. avatar pg2 says:

      “prog”..assume meaning progressive. Progressing towards what? We use this term/word without really thinking about it. Maybe we don’t play their semantic game and make it more difficult for them to use a positive term to describe themselves that literally means nothing.

    2. avatar Dane Co Resident says:

      Do you really think a letter to the school board would have the same affect?
      I think the school was embarrassed and that was the main reason for the arrest.

    3. avatar Paddyo says:

      Remember what PHD stands for.
      Piled higher and deeper!

  16. avatar Jim B says:

    So it’s Madison? I went to the University of Washington which is known as very liberal yet there were plenty of conservative professors there not to mention students. This is especially true of science and engineering. A physics professor there I knew would even take a .357 ski mountaineering. When he yanked it out of his pack at a cabin we were all staying in someone asked him if he kept it loaded. His reply- “Do you keep gas in your car?”

    Even in the humanities there were some conservatives. In fact the most popular professor at the UW when I went there was a history professor. He told me one on one (he wouldn’t dare say it publicly) that majors that ended with the word studies (Black Studies, Women Studies, etc.) were little more than academic fraud. He was conservative through and through.

    Where did you go to school that makes you think that anyone with an education is liberal?

  17. avatar former water walker says:

    That’s funny…my last son graduated from high school nearly 5 years ago. They gave you the 3rd degree when you were buzzed in. And highly aggressive sexurity. PHD boy is a virtue signalling DOPE.

  18. avatar M1Lou says:

    My mom was a teacher and recently retired. When she was in school she brought up numerous security concerns about the property and school building. The other teachers looked at her like she had a third eye growing out of her forehead. They don’t take things seriously until it’s too late, then cry “why me”, or “why do this happen?” It happened because you didn’t take security seriously.

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      Did, not do. Thank you autocorrect!

  19. avatar Hannibal says:

    Next maybe he’ll go to the airport and open his jacket to show a big sign saying “BOMB” and complain on not getting the response he wants.

  20. avatar sound awake says:

    madison area school…dane county

    all you need to know

    bluest county in the state

    uw madison is there big college town

    went over 70 percent for hillary in 2016

    any other county he may have gotten away with it

  21. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    Didn’t another guy pull a similar stunt after Sandy Hook? I think he had either a piece of wood or cardboard, rifle-sized, and had written “assault rifle” in black marker on the side. Then he went to his kid’s school and roamed the halls to make his point. He got arrested, but I don’t know what happened after that.

  22. avatar slimjim9 says:

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Do we really need this kind of stunt to “prove” the point? Are there really people that don’t understand this could happen anywhere? If there are, I don’t see how this is going to get through to them either. Some men can’t be reached.

  23. avatar RetroG says:

    Doesn’t he have the right of free speech? All he did was illustrate a fatal weakness in the school’s “security”. As far as we know, he might have already tried the more politically correct writing to the school board (which in my experience isn’t worth spit) and gotten nowhere.

  24. avatar popcorn says:

    Disorderly Conduct? Wow, sounds like this guy may have grounds for a civil rights law suit based on a violation of his 1st Amendment rights.

  25. avatar IdahoBoy says:

    He was fine right up until he walked into a classroom. It ain’t cricket to act like that in front of other peoples kids. If you want to educate your own kids with such a demonstration, do it on your own time and on your own property, but stay the hell away from my kids.


    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      It is simply amazing how many people on this list need that spelled out for them. What he did was not freedom of speech. It was a stunt involving people who did want to be involved and had the right to go about their business of both teaching and learning without being disrupted. Once he entered the building and did not go directly to the school office, a School Resource Officer with a Badge should have planted his face in the terrazzo floor so deeply they’d need a shovel to dig it out.

  26. avatar Mike Hargreaves says:

    From some spot in my Lap Top, I dragged up the footage of the 2016 day of the President Trump election win!

    Wow to watch all those Democrats cry/sob. What a bunch of immature crybabies! I also noted how many used profanity in their complaints-comments, F this F that.

    And complaints that they will lose all the transgender bathrooms, no homosexual men kissing in public? You think?

  27. avatar Wild Bill says:

    The school district is covering their collective asses. He showed their security measures are bogus and now they want to punish him. He should sue them for wrongful arrest.

    The typical government reaction to a whistle blower and liberals attacking the person instead of the facts.

  28. avatar Mikial says:

    The guy made a point that the school and local police didn’t want made. That being, all the stupid “Gun Free Zone” signs in the world will not stop attacks on schools. And for that they will do their best to crucify him. Hopefully his community will recognize the good he was doing and support him, but based on the general stupidity of our society today, I highly doubt it.

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