A Springfield teacher and principal takes his life.
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield charter school principal who committed suicide Thursday was under investigation for sex crimes against a minor, Springfield police confirmed late Friday.
Michael Fisher was placed on administrative leave from the Academy of Arts and Academics, commonly known as A3, Wednesday morning, prompting a lockdown at the high school.
The investigation into the sexual misconduct allegation is ongoing, police Lt. Scott McKee said.
The female victim, who’s now an adult, lives out of state and recently came forward with allegations regarding sexual misconduct on school property, which led school officials to place Fisher on leave Wednesday.
McKee said that although Fisher is dead, the ongoing investigation primarily is being done for the sake of any other potential victims.
“Not only do we have a mandatory (abuse) reporting obligation as public officials, we also feel a moral obligation to do our best to identify anyone who was impacted by this behavior,” McKee said.
Springfield police are asking other victims or witnesses of inappropriate behavior involving Fisher to call 541-726-3714.
Police and school district staff members previously had declined to say why the school in downtown Springfield was put on lockdown — meaning no one can enter or exit — after Fisher had been placed on leave. However, McKee disclosed Friday that the hourlong lockdown that began at noon was a result of Fisher attempting to buy a gun at a nearby pawnshop after he left school grounds.
“As fate would have it, a former student happened to be working in the pawnshop,” McKee said.
The former student knew Fisher to be an outspoken anti-gun advocate, McKee said. On May 21, 1998, Fisher was a teacher at Thurston High School and in the school’s cafeteria when student Kip Kinkel shot two students to death and injured 24 others. Fisher, the theater director at Thurston, later directed a play inspired by the shooting.
The former student then texted a second former student, who knew Fisher had just been placed on leave and was under some kind of investigation.
The second former student contacted school staff who initiated the school’s lockdown and called police.
Springfield police investigators followed up and discovered that Fisher had left the pawnshop and gone to another nearby gun dealer, where he purchased a firearm, McKee said. According to police, Fisher told the gun dealer he was buying the gun for self-defense.
Fisher did not return to the school, and police contacted him at his home on South 68th Street a short time later.
“He told our officers he knew the nature of the investigation and was concerned for his safety,” McKee said. “He said he bought the gun for self-protection. Our officers told him they were concerned he may have purchased the gun to hurt himself. He said he had not, but he agreed to hand it over. We took his gun for safekeeping.”
The lockdown at the school then was lifted.
Fisher’s wife was not at home during the police visit, McKee said, and was not informed about the officer’s initial concern Fisher might harm himself.
“He was pretty convincing,” McKee said. “Now we know he had a theater background, but he represented in no way that would lead us to believe he was suicidal. He was very convincing.”
The gun was loaded when Fisher gave it to police, McKee said.
At 4 p.m. the following day, Fisher was found dead by his wife in the garage of their Springfield home, police said.
Fisher had hanged himself, according to police.
He had been an employee in the Springfield district since 1990. He worked as a teacher at Thurston High School from 1990 until he became principal at A3 in 2005. Formerly an alternative school, A3 became a district charter school in 2009.
The school, at 615 Main St., has an enrollment of 340 students in grades nine to 12.
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