By Shereen Siewert
WESTON – (Update 10:04 p.m.) A community is in mourning Wednesday after the shocking shooting deaths of four people including an Everest Metro Police officer.
Today marks the first time a local police officer has been killed in the line of duty since 1994, when Marathon County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Sheets was shot to death. Nationwide, since Jan. 1, 28 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial page.
Wausau Pilot & Review has learned the name of the fallen officer and other victims but will not publish that information until cleared by officials. Everest Metro Police Chief Wally Sparks asked for time to allow the victims’ families to notify relatives before publicly releasing any names, including that of the suspect.
A visibly emotional Sparks told reporters Wednesday night that the lone suspect is in custody and there is no current threat to the community. Residents displaced from the Aspen Street apartment complex where the suspect was apprehended have been evacuated and transported to the Weston Municipal Center, where they are being assisted by the Red Cross.
The shooting spree began around 12:59 p.m. when police were called to the report of shots fired at Marathon Savings Bank in Rothschild. A news release from Rothschild police said their officers were called to the bank for a domestic dispute about 20 minutes earlier. Two victims were shot at the bank, police said.
Then at 1:10 p.m., another call came in, this time of a “similar incident” at Tlusty, Kennedy and Dirks Law Office, just blocks from the bank, police said. There, shots were also fired.
Within minutes, officers were again directed to a report of shots fired, this time at the Aspen Street Apartments in the 4900 block of Aspen Street. Officers from multiple agencies spent hours at the apartment complex, at what Wausau Police Capt. Todd Baeten described Wednesday afternoon as an “evolving, ongoing, complex situation.”
At least two bomb squad robots were used as the standoff ensued.
Just before 5 p.m., at least 30 and perhaps as many as 50 shots were fired in the span of several minutes at an apartment complex in the 4900 block of Aspen Street, according to video captured at the scene. Heavily armed officers were seen entering the building en masse just after 5 p.m. The suspect was apprehended shortly after police entered the building.
The suspect was injured and was transported to an unnamed hospital. His condition has not been released.
The Department of Criminal Investigation is spearheading the investigation, as is protocol when an officer is shot in the line of duty. More than 100 officers from local and state agencies, along with the FBI, are involved in the investigation itself, said DCI spokesman Jason Smith.
“These events affect more than just individuals; they affect entire communities,” Smith said.
D.C. Everest Schools, North Central Health Care and one local hospital were placed on lockdown for several hours as a precaution. There was never any danger to students, Sparks said.
“Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers,” Sparks said.
Additional information is expected to be released tomorrow.
|Past fallen officers in the Wausau area (Source: Officer Down Memorial Page)|
|Officer Edward Baerwald
Wausau Police Department
EOW: Wednesday, August 15, 1928
|Patrolman John E. Braun
Schofield Police Department
EOW: Monday, December 24, 1979
Cause: Gunfire (Accidental)
|Officer John DeLisle
Schofield Police Department
EOW: Monday, November 12, 1928
RAW VIDEO, courtesy of Dino Corvino: