CANTON, S.D. (KELO) — The 2015 Harrisburg School Shooter has now been sentenced to 10 years in prison after a hearing Tuesday at the Lincoln County Courthouse. The decision comes after a probation violation.
The case was reopened because of a domestic simple assault charge from 2021 out of Hughes County while Buhl was living in Pierre. He pleaded no contest at the end of January to that charge. A number of other charges, including rape, were dropped in the plea deal.
Tueday in court, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the school shooting case.
On September 30, 2015, then 16-year-old Harrisburg High School student, Mason Buhl, brought a handgun to school and shot his principal before being tackled and held there until police arrived.
In 2017, Buhl received a suspended 25-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted murder.
Judge Bradley Zell, who has since retired, sentenced Buhl to 15 years of probation. As long as Buhl did not engage in any violent behavior, he would not have to serve prison time.
In court Tuesday, Buhl’s attorneys said he was “rebuilding his life” and that the 2017 sentencing by Judge Zell was an “act of grace.” They said Buhl is asking for another chance.
The now 23-year-old Buhl also spoke in court, saying during his probation he attended McCrossan Boys Ranch, received his GED, has had a number of different jobs and moved to Pierre with family. He said “I felt like things were going good,” and his plan going forward is to “do what the court has asked of me.”
Buhl admitted to violating probation.
State’s attorney Tom Wollman argued the 25-year sentence be reimposed and brought up an important part of the 2017 sentence.
“At the end of the day, there was a specific provision in judge Zell’s sentence that said ‘no violent behavior,’ and clearly the defendant violated the condition of that sentence by engaging in a simple assault domestic,” Wollman said.
Wollman has been involved with the school shooting case since the beginning and says Buhl was given a “judicial grace.”
“I don’t know the community really had grace. They went through a lot as a result of this, that sentence. Met with members of the community over the years who didn’t necessarily feel safe that the defendant was basically walking free in the community as a result of that sentence,” Wollman said.
Tuesday afternoon, Judge Rachel Rasmussen said “it is not easy to make that determination” regarding sentencing for the reopened case. In the end, she reimposed the original 25-year sentence with 15 years suspended and chance of parole.
Buhl was taken into custody after the hearing to start serving that 10-year sentence at the state penitentiary.
Buhl’s attorney did not have any comment after the sentencing.