By Shereen Siewert
One person is dead and two people are critically injured after a Wausau shooting spree that rocked the city’s southeast side, typically a quiet neighborhood with little crime and few police calls.
All three victims were either employees of Pine Grove Cemetery, 1501 Grand Ave., or were related to employees there, said Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven and Everest Metro Police Chief Clay Schulz, in a news conference hours after the shooting.
Bliven said the suspect, whose name was not released, was a former employee at the cemetery.
Details are now emerging about the shooting, which appears to be part of a larger plot to kill dozens, or even hundreds, of people.
Police say the suspected shooter first set fire to a Schofield apartment complex. Crews were initially called at about 8:15 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 to a report of a fire 121 Fullmer Street in Schofield as heavy smoke poured from the garage. The blaze was extinguished, but the Marathon County Bomb Squad was called to the scene and a significant police presence remained there for several hours after multiple incendiary devices were discovered on the property.
After allegedly rigging the explosives at the apartment complex the suspect then traveled to the area of Pine Grove Cemetery, 1501 Grand Ave., Wausau, where he allegedly shot all three victims.
Multiple 911 callers heard the gunshots, alerting both police and rescue personnel. By 9 a.m., one person was dead. Two additional victims were transported to Aspirus Wausau Hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds, police said.
As crews rushed to save the injured, police responded to reports from callers that a potential suspect was fleeing by bicycle east of the cemetery. There, police set up a perimeter and arrested one suspect, who is believed to have acted alone.
Schulz said the suspect’s apartment is being searched. He urged residents to stay away from both scenes, which remain active as of Thursday afternoon.
Even as officers and members of the bomb squad continue their investigation, friends and family members of the victims, whose names have not been publicly released, are creating a makeshift memorial on the edge of the city’s largest cemetery, which borders Grand Avenue.
“We will do everything in our power to bring the suspects in this case to justice,” Bliven said.
Bliven asked anyone with information about the suspect or the case to come forward by contacting either the Wausau Police Department or the Everest Metro Police Department. Tipsters can also submit information to Crimestoppers.
The suspect is in the Marathon County Jail and is expected to appear Friday in court. The exact charges that will be filed against him were not immediately available.