Wisconsin State Journal Removes This Story

The Madison School District’s Ken Syke via email:

Jim,
I’ve been made aware of the entry on the School Info Systems site about La Follette student taking gun to school. That story has been retracted by madison.com and thus the story excerpt on the the SIS site is not supported any longer. It’s our understanding that this madison.com story will remain retracted.
Thus we request that the story excerpt be pulled from the School Info Systems site.
Thank you.

I phoned (608) 252-6120 the Wisconsin State Journal (part of Capital Newspapers, which owns madison.com) and spoke with Jason (I did not ask his last name) today at about 2:20p.m. I asked about the status of this story [Dane County Case Number: 2010CF001460, Police call data via Crime Reports COMMUNITY POLICING 03 Sep 2010 1 BLOCK ASH ST Distance: 0 miles Identifier: 201000252977 Suspicious Vehicle Agency: City of Madison]. He spoke with another person, returned to the phone and said that a police officer phoned the reporter, Sandy Cullen and said the report she mentioned was incorrect. They then took the article down. I asked him to email me this summary, which I will post upon receipt.
Links from the original post:
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  • Jim Zellmer

    I received this email from Phil Brinkman, City Editor of the Wisconsin State Journal. I appreciate the time Phil took to write today:
    “Jim,
    Assistant city editor Jason Kramer passed along your question about the story we briefly had on our website last night and today. I’m happy to clarify what happened.
    On Friday, one of our reporters correctly cited a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court, which quoted a student saying he had brought a gun to La Follette High School.
    Before filing the story, our reporter checked the young man’s claim with Madison police, who could not immediately corroborate it. Capt. James Wheeler, the head of the gang unit, offered to review the police reports and interview officers and get back to us. However, because the allegation was contained in a court record, we felt secure in quoting from it and went ahead and prepared our story for print in Saturday’s newspaper and posted it online Friday night.
    Late Friday night, Capt. Wheeler called our reporter back and assured her, in no uncertain terms, that the criminal complaint was incorrect and that there was no evidence this suspect ever had a gun at La Follette. Based on that, and on the fact that we have known Capt. Wheeler to be a credible source in the past, we opted to remove the story from the website and not put it in the paper, at least until we could iron out the discrepancy with the district attorney’s office.
    However, news aggregators like Google had already seen the story, which is why you saw the headline.
    Additionally, the story had not been killed out of our system, as it should have been, but was instead marked “do not publish.” When you called on Saturday to inquire why the story wasn’t available, a different online editor, who had no history with this story, wondered the same thing. He assumed the “do not publish” tag had been a mistake and unchecked that option. Doing so caused it to again be published online.
    Capt. Wheeler brought this to our attention on Saturday morning and we again took it down and removed the story from our system.
    Phil Brinkman
    City Editor
    Wisconsin State Journal”
    Finally, a kind reader emailed a link to the Dane County Case #2010CF001460 Count #2: “Possess Firearm in School Zone”. I added that link to the post above.