The 2010s: 2015

KELOLAND.com Original

ADVANCE FOR DEC 25 AND THEREAFTER – FILE – In this Sept. 30, 2015 file photo, an armed Lincoln County deputy sheriff blocks the entrance to Harrisburg high school following a shooting at the school in Harrisburg, S.D. Authorities arrested a 16-year-old Harrisburg High School student in late September, saying he entered the office of Principal Kevin Lein and shot him in the right arm. (AP Photos/Dirk Lammers)

The year got off to a deadly start when an employee of Sioux Steel in Lennox opened fire inside the plant.

“The investigation at the scene revealed that two people had been shot,” Lincoln County Sheriff Dennis Johnson said.

45-year-old Jon Richter was killed and two others were seriously injured. 

The suspect, 52-year-old Jeffrey DeZeeuw later turned the gun on himself.  Authorities found his body next to a burnt-out semi about three miles south of Lennox.

In this Sept. 30, 2015 file photo, an armed Lincoln County deputy sheriff blocks the entrance to Harrisburg high school following a shooting at the school in Harrisburg, S.D. Authorities arrested a 16-year-old Harrisburg High School student in late September, saying he entered the office of Principal Kevin Lein and shot him in the right arm. (AP Photos/Dirk Lammers)

It wasn’t the only shooting of 2015. A student walked into Harrisburg High School and fired one shot injuring the school principal.  School staff responded quickly and so did law enforcement. 

Although the principal returned to work the very next day, the shooting left a scar on the school district. 

“The hardest part of Harrisburg is being identified with this and this doesn’t define Harrisburg,”  Harrisburg Superintendent Jim Holbeck said.

In May, the small town of Delmont took a direct hit from an EF-2 tornado that tore a destructive path through the community.  

At least three people were sent to the local hospital and were treated and released.  As devastating as it was, no one was killed. 

President Barack Obama visits Watertown

Also in May, President Barack Obama landed in a modified Air Force One at Watertown Regional Airport. It was Obama’s 50th state to visit while in office.

“I have now been to all 50 states as president, and I was saving the best for last. To the other 49, I hope you take no offense.”

President Barack Obama

At the airport he met a Vermillion girl who mailed him this letter:

Obama delivered the commencement address for Lake Area Technical Insitute graduates.

FILE – In this May 8, 2015, file photo, President Barack Obama holds up a school jacket that was gift for him by the Class of 2015 after delivering the commencement address at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivias, File)

He became the 15th sitting president to visit South Dakota and it was the 25th visit by a sitting president.

A flood of questions surfaced after tragedy struck the community of Platte.  Authorities say Scott Westerhuis shot and killed his entire family, started his house on fire then turned the gun on himself.  

The incident sparked a state and federal investigation into the finances of Scott Westerhuis who managed the GEAR UP Program that received millions of dollars in grant money. 

Hundreds of stories from KELOLAND Investigates’ Angela Kennecke would follow this tragedy.

Continue exploring the 2010s. Click here to jump to 2016.

The 2010s: A Decade in KELOLAND

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