News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 16, 2013

Sheriffs continue investigation of 2007 school shooting

Staff Report
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Clay County Sheriff’s Department wants people to know it is still working on a six-year-old case in which bullets struck Van Buren Elementary School, injuring a school employee.

The sixth anniversary of the shooting, which took place Oct. 18, 2007, recently passed and “some citizens have been asking if any suspects were ever identified and if any arrests were made in the case,” stated a news release issued Friday by the sheriff’s department.

Police identified two people early in the investigation thought to have knowledge of the incident. One of those people, a juvenile, was believed to be the shooter.

During the investigation, authorities questioned the juvenile with a parent present, but the juvenile later chose to answer no further questions, the release states.

The other person, Christopher P. Stapert, who was 20 at the time of the shooting, initially admitted knowledge of the incident but then recanted.

Four years later, in October 2011, after taking a polygraph test, Stapert confessed to his involvement, the release stated.

Stapert told police he was acting as “muscle” for the juvenile, who was attempting to collect a drug debt from another person. On Oct. 18, Stapert said he was in the back seat of a car while the juvenile was in the front passenger seat. Another person, not known by Stapert, was driving.

Stapert said they were on U.S. 40 near Harmony when they spotted the person who allegedly owed the drug debt in another vehicle.

They gave chase and, eventually, the juvenile opened fire at the other person’s vehicle as the cars were speeding past Van Buren Elementary, which is north of U.S. 40.

The chase was unsuccessful and was soon abandoned, Stapert told police.

On New Years Day 2012, Stapert was sentenced to six years in prison for his involvement in the school shooting incident. Two years of the sentence were suspended, and Stapert will serve that time on probation, the news release stated.

The Indiana State Police continue to help with the investigation.