Custodian Charged With Having Loaded Handgun In School Building

Local News

KELOLAND News has new information concerning the loaded gun that was found in a Sioux Falls school that put the entire district on alert and forced law enforcement to beef up security Monday morning as students arrived to class.  

25-year-old Joseph Croal, who is a custodian at Career and Technical Education Academy, is charged with possession of a firearm in a school and filing a false report for allegedly bringing the gun into the school. 

While it created a lot of anxiety among students, parents and staff, the district says it was an isolated incident and wants to reassure everyone the schools are safe. 

The report came in late Friday night from the CTE Academy that a loaded handgun was found in the ceiling of the men’s bathroom along with four bullets underneath a garbage can. 

Police say that was a major concern. 

“First there was a gun in the school.  Are there more?  Is there a student out there with issues?  So, we knew we were in for a long weekend trying to discover those facts,” Sioux Falls police detective Blaine Larsen said. 

Ironically, it was Croal who made that report. 

“The following morning, we did a full call out, where we had detectives, school resource officers and employees from the Sioux Falls School District involved trying to figure out who this gun belonged to,” Larsen said. 

According to court papers, they interviewed 25-30 students and faculty who use that bathroom.  That took some time since school was only in its second day and many of the teachers didn’t know the students by name. 

“So, we had to bring in assistant principals from each of the high schools to help us identify students, so the police force knew who to talk to,” Superintendent Brian Maher said. 

Court documents say officers also did DNA swabs on each student.  

But later, when they interviewed Croal, who took a lie detector test, he allegedly admitted he was the one who put the gun in the ceiling.  

He went on to say he found the gun in a Chevy Blazer, which had been pulled into the auto shop at CTE. 

The documents go on to say he panicked because he had already touched the gun so that’s why he put it in the ceiling. 

“We just think it was some bad decisions on this employee’s part and we don’t believe there was any threat at any time to students’ safety,” Larsen said. 

Croal will make his first court appearance on Tuesday.  

KELOLAND News did a background check on him and discovered he’s been in trouble with the law before for simple assault in 2011.

Then in 2013, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with a fight at Lincoln High School.

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