Officer, 3 others fatally shot in Wisconsin; suspect caught

Area schools, hospital on lockdown.
Posted at 3:05 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 17:44:29-04

WESTON, Wis. (AP) --Four people including a police officer are dead and a suspect is in custody after shootings at a bank and a law firm in northern Wisconsin, followed by a standoff at an apartment complex that ended in a volley of gunfire.

Police characterized the initial shooting at the Marathon Savings Bank in Rothschild on Wednesday afternoon as a domestic dispute, but have provided no details about the suspect or victims, or even whether anyone was wounded and survived. Authorities said late Wednesday that there was no remaining threat to the public.

Jason Smith, a deputy administrator for the state Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation, said more than 100 officers are investigating and that more information will be released Thursday.

The violence unfolded in a cluster of small towns south of Wausau, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Green Bay. The officer worked for Everest Metro, a small, 27-officer force that serves Schofield and Weston.

"I would like to send all my thoughts and ask everybody listening, `Thoughts and prayers to all the victims and their families."' Everest Metro Chief Wally Sparks said. "Please keep them in your prayers and be with our officers."

On Thursday, a police officer sat in a parked SUV outside the law firm in Schofield. Yellow crime-scene tape surrounded the building and someone had left flowers on the sidewalk outside.

The shooting at the bank in Rothschild was reported around midday. Officers responding to a "domestic situation" arrived at the bank to find two people were shot and the suspect had fled. It wasn't clear if those two victims were among the dead.

Janet Schoenfeldt, who owns a hair salon behind the bank, said she was at the front desk around 1 p.m. Wednesday when squad cars poured into the parking log, followed by ambulances. An officer then told her to close her shop and get out of the area.

"It's a sad reality. Someone taking innocent lives over something he's upset about," Schoenfeldt. "We're a small-knit community. You just don't think it will happen here. Everybody says that, but you know what? It does happen here."

A second call came about 10 minutes later from Tlusty, Kennedy and Dirks, a law firm in nearby Schofield. Authorities did not say if one of the victims was killed there. The action then moved to an apartment complex in Weston.

Dozens of police vehicles were still parked in front of the apartment building Thursday where the suspect allegedly shot and killed an Everest Metro officer. The apartment, which appeared to be a duplex or larger, was ringed with yellow crime-scene tape. Officers could be seen walking around with clipboards.

A woman who lives in the complex said she looked out of her apartment window at around 1:15 p.m. to see a squad car approach, and a few seconds later heard a gunshot and saw an officer fall. Kelly Hanson, 21, told The Associated Press she saw other officers put the wounded policeman in an armored SWAT vehicle and take him away. She couldn't tell if he was alive or dead and police have not said if this was the officer who died.

"I thought, `What is going on?' I know what a gun sounds like, and thought, `This isn't good,"' Hanson said. She stayed inside her apartment.

The Wausau Daily Herald reported that SWAT team members entered the apartment building at around 2:30 p.m.

Hanson said she heard about 10 shots at around 4:45 p.m. and began to "freak out."

Another resident, Susan Thompson, told the Daily Herald that she heard gunshots and screams. Police told the 21-year-old mother to stay inside with her 2-year-old daughter and to lock her doors.


   Associated Press reporters Jeff Baenen, Doug Glass and Steve Karnowski contributed to this report from Minneapolis.

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