By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — Two 17-year-old southern Wisconsin teens are accused of stealing a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition from a Wausau man, then giving the weapon to a third teen to have the serial number scratched off so the rifle would be untraceable.
Police say one of the teens had been making threats to kill another boy over a dispute about whether or not the intended victim was a true member of the Gangster Disciple gang.
Michael L. Jurech, of Racine, and Joavanni D. Perez, of South Milwaukee, face felony charges in Marathon County Circuit Court of theft of a firearm and theft of moveable property. Also facing charges is Phoojywg Rick Vang, of Wausau, whose charges include possession of stolen property, possession of stolen firearm and felony bail jumping. Vang has two open felony cases unrelated to the current case: one in Fond du Lac County and one in Waupaca County.
Jurech also faces charges of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old child in Wausau, in a separate case filed three days later.
Police say the investigation began July 20 when a 19-yar-old Wausau man reported his Bushmaster QRC AR-15 rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition were stolen from his pickup. The victim told police he noticed the theft after driving to Milwaukee to pick up both Jurech and Perez at the request of a friend, who accompanied the victim on the trip to and from Milwaukee. The victim suspected Jurech and Perez stole the weapon when they gathered their belongings from the back of the truck and were dropped off on Third Avenue in Wausau in the early morning hours of July 19, according to court filings.
The victim was only able to describe the suspects by their descriptions and nicknames, but police used social media to identify the teens. Investigators learned the suspects had allegedly taken the weapon to Vang to have the serial number removed and that one of the suspects had made the threatening statements. Members of the SWAT team conducted surveillance at a residence in the 700 block of S. Third Avenue. Juresch and Perez were taken into custody July 25, according to the incident report.
As Jurech and Perez were being arrested, officers were also searching a home in the 1200 block of N. Third Avenue, where they discovered the stolen rifle and additional firearms in a bedroom where Vang was allegedly staying. Police say Vang confessed he knew the rifle was stolen.
Perez is free on a signature bond. His preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 4.
Jurech is being held on a $10,000 bond with the first $4,000 to be paid in cash. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 8.
An initial appearance for Vang has not yet been set.
Mugshots for the teens were not immediately provided.