By Shereen Siewert
Dozens of pages of reports released Nov. 12 by the Everest Metro Police Department show officers had contact 29 times with Henry “Hank” West over a seven-year span, including a suspicious activity call just weeks before he allegedly opened fire at a Wausau cemetery.
Henry “Hank” West, of Schofield, 64, faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide, 11 counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, three counts of attempted arson, one count of arson of a building without the owner’s consent, and resisting or obstructing an officer.
West faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of killing 52-year-old Patty Grimm, who was the manager at Pine Grove Cemetery, 1501 Grand Ave., Wausau. He is also accused of shooting William Buhse, 60, and Rosemelia Short, 70, who survived.
In response to an open records request the Everest Metro Police Department released a 77-page document this week detailing all prior contacts with West since November 2012. Contacts range from tips on West’s alleged habit of driving a van and motorcycle without a license, fights, reports of suspicious activity and calls from West himself complaining about his neighbors.
One event report, dated July 28, a caller asked for a welfare check on West, saying that “multiple people” were concerned about him. The caller alleged that West had said he “would not be around anymore” and had recently purchased a gun. But when police made contact with West, he denied having suicidal thoughts and said he “did not know where the gun statement came from.” West then requested police not speak with his neighbors, and assured officers he would call police or North Central Health Care if he began to feel suicidal, the report states.
One day later, police were again summoned to West’s apartment for a report of a loud radio blaring from inside. The caller told police West had been evicted and the noise had been an “ongoing issue.”
Then on Sept. 4, police received a complaint that alleged West had been taking photos of the reporting party and his or her family. After speaking to West and the reporting party, whose name was redacted from the report, the responding officer determined the complaint was a civil matter.
One month later, West allegedly set fire to his Fullmer Street apartment, severed a gas line and set up multiple incendiary devices that prosecutors say could have killed dozens, if not hundreds, of people, before opening fire at the cemetery where he once worked.
West, who is being held on a $10 million bond, has a pretrial conference Nov. 21. He faces life in prison if he is convicted on the homicide charge alone.