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DOJ identifies suspect in deadly Kewaskum triple shooting, concludes he died from deputy's gunfire

Posted at 3:59 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 23:32:39-05

KEWASKUM — The Wisconsin Department of Justice has identified the suspect in the Kewaskum shooting that left three people dead, including the suspect, last week. The DOJ concluded on Tuesday that the suspect, Nicholas S. Pingel, 30 of West Bend, died from a bullet fired at him by a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy.

The deputy, Lee Goodman, a 9-year veteran of the office, has been placed on administrative leave as is protocol.

An autopsy confirmed that Pingel died as the result of the law enforcement round.

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Also on Tuesday, the Washington County Sheriff's Office released new details from their own investigation. According to a statement, Pingel is the lone suspect in the crime spree leading up to the gun battle between Pingel and law enforcement.

The Sheriff's Office states that Pingel has a criminal record dating back to 2010 involving a number of minor investigations, civil forfeitures as well as misdemeanor and felony arrests. From 2014 to 2016, Pingel was arrested for several burglaries and was eventually sent to prison.

Pingel has spent most of the last four years behind bars, criminal records show. He was released from prison on Dec. 1, 2020, and was placed on extended supervision with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The Sheriff's Office states interviews with family members and associates suggest Pingel struggled with substantial mental health issues and was disconnected from family members during the week before the incident. Pingel stopped taking his medication, which helped him cope with the mental illness, the Office believes.

Pingel was living at an acquaintance's apartment in West Bend starting on Jan. 29. He was asked to leave the apartment the next day due to erratic behavior. He may have been covertly staying overnight in the common basement area of that apartment during the nights leading up to the crime spree, the Sheriff's Office says.

Interviews also suggest that drug use could be a factor to his erratic behavior, according to the Office.

Initial findings on the shooting

In an update on the triple Kewaskum slaying on Wednesday, Washington County investigators conclude a local man broke into an elderly couple's home and fatally shot a 72-year-old resident, and then entered a neighbor's home, stole a shotgun and fatally shot a 77-year-old resident.

When law enforcement arrived, officers opened fire on the suspect, hitting him, and later found him dead nearby.

Lt. Tim Kemps with the Washington County Sheriff's Office released a more detailed account of the tragic slayings on Friday. The incident earlier this week led to a massive police presence including heavily armed SWAT teams, a police perimeter and closed roads for hours.

Also on Friday, a family has identified one of the two victims as 72-year-old Ray L. Engelking. The family of Engelking agreed to confirm his identity and issue a statement about him and the incident that cut his life short. You can read that statement here.

Double homicide

The incident began around 2:30 p.m. when a 30-year-old West Bend man stole a car in the city. About 15 minutes later, he appears to have crashed and rolled the stolen car after failing to make a turn on icy roads, along Forest View Road in the Town of Kewaskum.

The suspect was able to break out of the wreck, and proceeded to break into a nearby, unoccupied home, investigators say.

Meanwhile, a 52-year-old Port Washington woman came upon the crashed, stolen car to check if anyone needed help. That's when the suspect approached her, physically assaulted her and attempted to take her car, according to investigators. He then crashed that car while leaving the driveway.

The suspect ran to another nearby home in the 8100 block of Forest View Road. Around 2:50 p.m., the suspect forced himself through a locked front door and encountered the elderly owners of that home.

RELATED: 'Nobody deserves it': Neighbors react after 3 dead, including suspect, in Kewaskum home invasion

The suspect demanded and got keys to the homeowners' car, investigators say. He tried to drive away but was not able to get the car started. He then went back into the home and physically assaulted the elderly couple, and then returned to the vehicle to try to start it again.

During that brief moment, one of the residents, a 72-year-old man, retrieved a handgun for his protection. The suspect returned, was able to overpower the resident and turned the gun on him, shooting and killing the 72-year-old man, according to authorities.

The suspect tried to also shoot the victim's wife, but the weapon did not fire, according to investigators. The suspect then left the home on foot.

Investigators continue that the suspect went to a home in the 8200 block of Forest View Road, where he encountered another resident. The suspect decided to break into the 77-year-old's home and steal a shotgun. He then used the weapon to fatally shoot the elderly man outside his garage, according to authorities. The suspect then ran away.

This second homicide was not seen by any witnesses, investigators say, and all of the victims were random and not known to the suspect.

Encounter with police

Just after 3 p.m., law enforcement arriving in the area found the armed suspect on Forest View Road near the scene of the second homicide. A deputy and the suspect exchanged fire, and the suspect was hit by a single round, investigators say.

Law enforcement formed a perimeter around the scene and deployed a drone, which later located the suspect a short distance away.

Officers found the suspect dead from an apparent gunshot wound, with the firearm at his side.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office identifies the deputy who fired their weapon as a nine-year veteran of the office, wo has been placed on administrative leave as standard procedure. He was not injured in the shoot-out.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting

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