By Shereen Siewert
During a probable cause hearing on Friday a Marathon County judge ordered the suspect in an Oct. 3 shooting rampage that killed a Wausau woman and injured two others held on a $1 million dollar bond.
Police say Henry “Hank” West fatally shot a 52-year-old Wausau woman and shot two additional victims Thursday at a Wausau cemetery before being taken into custody. A 60-year-old Wausau man is in critical condition Friday and a 70-year-old Wausau woman is also hospitalized in stable condition as a result of the shooting, which has shaken the Wausau community.
West, 64, was a former employee of Pine Grove Cemetery and left their employment in 2012, Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven said.
“West did not leave employment on his own terms and was dissatisfied with Pine Grove Cemetery,” Bliven’s release stated.
In addition, a judge on Oct. 1 ordered West’s eviction from his Fuller Street apartment, the same building he allegedly set fire to before the shooting.
“These are two pertinent facts we have learned during the investigation of this incident,” Bliven said. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us as we continue to investigate this case. There will be more search warrants executed, witnesses interviewed, and evidence processed.”
Crews were initially called at about 8:15 a.m. Thursday 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 many hours.
From there, the suspect traveled to the cemetery where he allegedly shot all three victims, police said.
At about 8:45 a.m. police and rescue crews were called to Pine Grove Cemetery, 1501 Grand Ave., Wausau, for a report of a possible gunshot wound to a female victim. From there, units were directed to a second gunshot victim at a maintenance building near the sports complex on Curling Way.
A third victim was discovered just before 9 a.m. at the cemetery near the front entrance with a gunshot wound.
Upon arriving at the cemetery, police acted on reports from callers stating that a suspect was fleeing by bicycle east of the cemetery. There, police set up a perimeter and arrested West. A handgun was recovered from the scene.
Bliven said the Wausau Police Department team will continue to support those who have been profoundly impacted by the shooting.
“Our thoughts, prayers, and continued dedication on this case will be for the victims and others impacted,” Bliven said.
Neighbors tell Wausau Pilot and Review that West made troubling statements to them in the days leading up to the shooting, saying they would “see me on the news.” But police have not confirmed statements by neighbors saying they called police with their suspicions well before the shooting occurred.
The names of the victims are being withheld at this time.
The Wausau Cemetery Association Board of Directors shared the following statement:
“We cannot adequately express the grief we feel over the events of yesterday. We grieve for the families involved, and hope and pray that those who were wounded have a full recovery. We extend our profound sympathies to all of the families involved. During this time of grief it is our goal to maintain operations at Pine Grove Cemetery as normally as possible. We thank the community for its support and ask for your understanding as there will inevitably be some disruption in the coming days. Questions regarding cemetery operations may be directed to Al Solomonson, president of the Wausau Cemetery Association at (715) 842-7672 or email@example.com.”
West, who is in custody at the Marathon County Jail, is being charged with one count of first degree intentional homicide and two counts of attempted first degree homicide. He is due in court Friday afternoon for a probable cause hearing.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call Detective Jennifer Holz at 715-261-7883.