Wisconsin Archives:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday said the government should examine additional ways to reduce violence after a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in southeastern Wisconsin, but he stopped short of calling for further gun control measures.

Obama said there are “a lot of elements involved” in mass shooting incidents, but did not give a direct answer when asked if he would push for further gun control measures after a lone gunman killed six people and injured three others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee.

“I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence,” Obama said after a bill signing ceremony. “I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level to see how we can make continued progress.”

Obama said he is heartbroken by Sunday’s mass shooting but said he is still awaiting the outcome of a full investigation. “If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes, and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another,” he said.

Also on Monday, the Oak Creek Police Department identified the six fatal victims as five men and one woman who were aged between 39 and 84. The gunman, who was shot dead by an Oak Creek police officer who was fired upon, was identified as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page.

Southern Poverty Law Center, a group which tracks extremism, described Page as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” and a “white supremacist skinhead” who was previously the leader of racist white-power band ‘End Apathy.’ The group said Page was also a member of ‘Definite Hate’, a band whose album “Violent Victory” features a drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face.

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OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — A lone gunman opened fire Sunday at a Sikh temple in southeast Wisconsin, killing six people before being shot dead by a police officer, officials said. Authorities are treating the incident as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

The incident began at around 10:25 a.m. local time when a gunman, armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic gun, walked into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee, and opened fire at worshippers just before Sunday services were to begin. Dozens of people were inside, including children.

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said the first 911 call came in at 10:26 a.m. local time, after which local police officers and a SWAT team responded.

“Our officers responded to the scene, did find a victim and were dealing with that individual when our officer, a 20-year veteran, was ambushed [and] shot multiple times,” said Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards. “Another officer who was on scene was [also] engaged by the suspect [and] our officer did engage that individual, and that individual is deceased from the action that our officer took.”

Edwards said seven people were killed, including the gunman, four victims who were found inside the temple and two victims whose bodies were found outside the building. Three people were also critically injured, including the Oak Creek police officer who was shot by the gunman.

The injured victims were rushed to Froedtert Hospital, where they remained in a critical condition on late Sunday. “They are all victims of gunshot wounds,” said Lee Biblo, chief medical officer at the hospital. “One suffered injuries to the abdomen and chest. One suffered injuries to the extremities and face. One suffered injures to the neck.”

Biblo said two of the patients have undergone surgery and one patient was undergoing a ‘complex procedure’ on late Sunday. He gave no other details about the nature of their injuries or if any were in a life-threatening condition, but Edwards said the injured police officer is expected to recover.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) described the gunman as a white male in his 40s, but gave no other details. A witness told CNN the gunman had a tattoo marking the September 11 terrorist attacks, but authorities were unable to confirm those claims. The identity of the suspect was not immediately released.

“The FBI is working closely with the Oak Creek Police Department and other local and federal agencies to investigate today’s shooting incident,” said Teresa Carlson, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI’s Milwaukee Division. “This remains an active investigation in its early stages. While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time.”

Edwards also said the attack is being treated as a domestic terrorist-type incident, but gave no other details. “Domestic terrorism is somebody who is doing some active terrorism within the confines of the United States,” he said. “It is not from another country or anything like that, it is within the United States.”

A White House official said President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting shortly before 1 p.m. EDT by Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan. He later convened a conference call with FBI Director Bob Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and Brennan to receive an update on the incident.

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin,” Obama said in a statement. “At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.”

He added: “My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.”

Following the conference call, Obama also called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi and Sikh Temple trustee Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured. “The President said that he wanted to make sure that as we denounce this senseless act of violence we also underscore how much our country has been enriched by our Sikh Community, who are an integral part of our broader American family,” the White House said.

Scaffidi, speaking at a news conference, expressed his shock about the mass shooting. “The City of Oak Creek is outraged by the senseless act of violence that happened in our city today, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those victims,” he said. “We are grateful for the heroic actions of two of our officers who made a very dangerous situation a little bit better, and probably saved lives. So we are thankful for that and we hope that they have a speedy recovery.”

In Washington, D.C., the Indian Embassy said it has sent an official to Oak Creek to get more details about the situation. “The Embassy is seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C.,” the Embassy said in a statement. “Our Consulate General in Chicago too has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation.”

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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) — Three U.S. service members were killed on Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials said, hours after a rogue Afghan soldier killed another U.S. service member.

United States Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A) said three of its service members were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Afghanistan’s east. Pending notification of next-of-kin, the force did not release other details about the incident, including the exact location.

Meanwhile, USFOR-A confirmed another U.S. service member was killed on late Wednesday evening when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army (ANA) uniform turned his weapon against coalition service members in southern Afghanistan. “The individual who opened fire was killed when coalition forces returned fire,” the force said.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released the identities of two U.S. soldiers who died in Afghanistan earlier this week.

DoD said 22-year-old Specialist Manuel J. Vasquez, of West Sacramento, California, died in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Paktika on Tuesday. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade at Grafenwoehr in Germany. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Vasquez died as a result of a non-battle related injury.

U.S. officials also confirmed 21-year-old Specialist Benjamin H. Neal, of Orfordville, Wisconsin, was killed in Kandahar province on Wednesday when insurgents attacked his unit with an IED. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

The deaths on Thursday and Wednesday raise the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 128, most of them American and British service members, according to official figures. A U.S. Marine and two U.S. soldiers were killed on Sunday as a result of two separate IED attacks in Afghanistan.

A total of 566 ISAF troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2011, down from 711 in 2010. A majority of the fallen troops were American and were killed in the country’s south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops later this year, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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STURGEON BAY, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — An 80-year-old woman with no flying experience took the controls of a small airplane after her pilot husband died during the flight, officials in Wisconsin said on Wednesday. She suffered minor injuries during the crash-landing.

The incident began just before 5 p.m. local time on Monday when 81-year-old John Collins and 80-year-old Helen Collins were flying from Marco Island in Florida to Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin, where the couple is from. They had earlier landed in Rome, Georgia, to refuel the aircraft.

John had not been feeling well since Thursday last week but refused to let his pilot son James fly him home. “James is a pilot and wanted to fly John and Helen back to Door County since he knew John was not feeling well,” officer Darron Smith wrote in a deputy report. “John told James he did not want him flying him and Helen back and would not let him go.”

The couple left Florida at around 9 a.m. local time on Monday and landed in Rome, Georgia to refuel before beginning a direct flight to Door County in Wisconsin. But during the last portion of the flight to Sturgeon Bay, John unbuckled his seat belt before collapsing and becoming unconscious.

“A female was reporting that her husband, the pilot of the aircraft, was having some sort of medical emergency and was unresponsive in the aircraft,” officer Scott Walker wrote in his deputy report. “The female was not a pilot and was now flying the aircraft.”

About 5 to 6 miles (8 to 9 kilometers) south of Sturgeon Bay and at an altitude of approximately 2,300 feet (701 meters), Helen quickly took the controls of the white twin-engine Cessna 414A. Emergency services responded to both Cherryland Airport in Door County and Austin Straubel Airport in Brown County, where an emergency landing could also be facilitated if necessary.

“Reporting officer spoke via phone with [Cherryland Airport Manager] Keith Kasbohm and directed him to contact any local pilots he could think of to respond to the airport as it was likely they would be needed to assist Helen in an effort to land the plane,” Walker wrote in his report. Kasbohm asked licensed pilots Robert and Catherine Vuksanovic to respond immediately.

“Hi Cathy. A hell of a place to be,” Helen said as Catherine, who is also an inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), arrived at Cherryland Airport. “I know. But it sounds like you are doing great,” Catherine responded, according to a recording of radio traffic.

Meanwhile, Catherine’s husband, Robert, took off in a Beechcraft Bonanza to advise Helen during the emergency landing. “Robert got in the air and was flying just off Helen’s wing and was consulting her via radio,” Walker said. “The two aircraft did several fly-by type maneuvers as practice runs.”

But as Helen and Robert were preparing for the emergency landing, more than an hour after John collapsed, the Cessna 414A was quickly running out of fuel. “You better get me in pretty soon, I don’t know how long I’m going to have gas,” Helen said before the landing.

About 10 minutes later, at approximately 6:05 p.m. local time, as Helen was about to land, the aircraft began experiencing problems due to the lack of fuel. “I’m running out of gas. My right engine is out,” Helen told Robert, who advised her to increase power to the left engine instead.

But despite having only one engine left, Helen managed to land the aircraft relatively safely. “The airplane touched down roughly on the north south runway,” Walker said. “The plane bounced back into the air before impacting the ground nose first and skidding across a grassy area and coming to rest on its nose, facing a northeasterly direction.”

“Great job, Helen. Great job!” Robert told her via radio after the aircraft came to a halt.

Both Helen and John were rushed to Ministry Door County Medical Center, where John was officially pronounced dead at 6.38 p.m. local time. “[Medical Examiner] Marion Moreno told reporting officer [that] John’s death was not a result of the airplane incident and his medical condition occurred prior to the airplane landing,” Smith said. Helen suffered minor injuries during the landing.

“She did a great job,” Robert said during a press conference on Wednesday, according to the Wausau Daily Herald newspaper. “There was no fire. She knew you have to keep the nose up. That was enough to keep her alive. This was more than a successful landing.”

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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — The pilot of a U.S. Air Force fighter jet that crashed in the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday was able to eject safely, officials said.

The pilot was conducting a routine training flight with an F-16 Fighter Falcon jet aircraft from the Wisconsin Air National Guard 115th Fighter Wing over Adams County, Wisconsin, when the accident occurred at around 1:20 p.m. local time.

The unnamed pilot was able to eject safely and was recovered south of Chester, Wisconsin, around 70 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The pilot was being medically evaluated, the U.S. Air Force said.

The aircraft was also found in Chester, as emergency teams were deployed to recover the aircraft. An Air Force team will be investigating the incident to determine the cause of the accident.

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MADISON, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — Democrat Senators on Thursday left the Wisconsin Capitol to boycott the passage of the governor’s union bill while protests continued in Madison, WISC-TV reported.

The Democrats left the Capitol in order to prevent the vote on the legislation proposed by Governor Scott Walker that intends to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights.

The Republican majority sought to pass the bill on Thursday but it cannot be approved unless there is at least one Democrat present. The 14 missing senators were found in a Rockford, Illinois hotel.

Governor Walker called for the missing lawmakers to return as the Senate. Police officers could be dispatched to retrieve the senators but so far no action has been decided as it involves crossing state lines.

“I am calling on Senate Democrats to show up to work today, debate legislation and cast their vote. Their actions by leaving the state and hiding from voting are disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of public employees who showed up to work today and the millions of taxpayers they represent,” said Walker.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama considers that the bill proposed by the Governor is more like an assault on unions but understands the fiscal challenges and the need to make tough budget decisions.

“The President believes that the best way to deal with this is for people to address these problems by sitting down at the table to collaborate and work out a solution,” added Carney.

Governor Walker introduced his union bill last week. He said that the legislation will help close Wisconsin’s $137 million shortfall in the state’s current budget and a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the next two-year budget.

By eliminating collective bargaining rights, the state would save $30 million by July and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall, according to Walker’s proposal.

In addition, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage as well. In this way, state employees’ share of pension and health care costs would go up by an average of 8 percent.

Meanwhile, protests continued for the third day as the area surrounding the Capitol was crowded by protesters, including teachers, prison guards and others. The building itself was also packed with demonstrators who were chanting pro-union slogans. The session began with only 17 Republican lawmakers.

Wisconsin police estimated that around 25,000 people were protesting and nine demonstrators were arrested. The rallies gathered 13,000 people on Tuesday and 20,000 on Wednesday.

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NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — A New York man is facing charges for allegedly handcuffing a woman who answered to his Craigslist ad of a free room, beating her, and keeping her as a ‘sex slave’ for 8 days, local media reported Tuesday.

John Hopkins, 45, of Brooklyn, New York, was arrested Saturday night after holding a Wisconsin woman for eight days in his apartment, constantly beating and raping her until she was able to call her mother, who informed the police, the New York Post reported.

Hopkins posted an ad on Craigslist, offering a free room in East Williamsburg in exchange of cleaning his apartment and cooking for him. The woman who accepted the deal, was picked up at New York City’s international airport earlier in the month and was driven to Hopkins’ Humbolt Street apartment.

However, upon arrival, Hopkins reportedly told the woman that she would become his slave. He then repeatedly physically and sexually abused the 27-year-old woman, and even handcuffed her to a radiator while continuing his assaults for eight days.

According to reports, the woman was allowed to attend a job interview in a Manhattan restaurant. The woman went on to call her mother, who informed the police.

On Monday, Hopkins, who is currently being held in custody with bail set at $350,000, was charged with first degree rape, committing a criminal sexual act, among other charges that included assauld and unlawful imprisonment.

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MARINETTE, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — The armed teenage gunman who shot himself at Marinette High School in Marinette, Wisconsin on Monday evening after holding two dozen hostages for more than four hours, died on Tuesday morning, officials said.

“The student who held classmates hostage yesterday passed away at 10:44 am today. He has been identified as Samuel O. Hengel, age 15, of rural Porterfield,” said Kathy Frank, a spokeswoman for the Marinette County Emergency Management office.

Police on Monday responded to the school after a 911 call was received at 3.48 p.m. local time, stating that a 15-year-old male student had taken several students and a female teacher hostage inside a classroom.

One student was allowed to leave at approximately 3:40 pm when the high school principal checked on the classroom.

Hours later, at around 7.40 p.m. local time, five students were able to escape after convincing the gunman that they needed to use the bathroom. Soon after, at 8.03 p.m. local time, law enforcement personnel stormed the building after three shots were heard.

Officials later said that the gunman was not firing at students or himself but were unable to say what he did fire at. When officers approached him, however, he turned the gun on himself.

Two hand guns were recovered at the scene as well as shell casings from both weapons. Students reported that the suspect had fired a weapon in the classroom before law enforcement arrived.

“Remaining students and the teacher were evacuated safely,” said Frank. “Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident,” she added.

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MARINETTE, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — An armed teenage gunman shot himself at Marinette High School in Marinette, Wisconsin on Monday evening after holding two dozen hostages for more than four hours.

Police responded to the school after a 911 call was received at 3.48 p.m. local time, stating that a 15-year-old male student had taken 23 students and a female teacher hostage inside a classroom.

Hours later, at around 7.40 p.m. local time, five students were able to escape after convincing the gunman that they needed to use the bathroom. Soon after, at 8.03 p.m. local time, law enforcement personnel stormed the building after three shots were heard.

Officials later said that the gunman was not firing at students or himself but were unable to say what he did fire at. When officers approached him, however, he turned the gun on himself.

“Remaining students and the teacher were evacuated safely,” said Kathy Frank, a spokeswoman for the Marinette County Emergency Management office. “Emergency rescue personnel on stand-by treated the suspect and transported him to Bay Area Medical Center.”

The condition of the young gunman, who was not immediately identified by officials, was not known as of early Tuesday morning.

Two hand guns were recovered at the scene as well as shell casings from both weapons. Students reported that the suspect had fired a weapon in the classroom before law enforcement arrived.

An explosives detection dog was brought in from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department as a precaution to conduct a safety sweep of the entire building, with negative results.

Marinette Police Chief Jeffrey Skorik said investigators have interviewed the parents of the hostage-taker but said they are still unsure what his motives were.

Officials said that Marinette High School will be closed on Tuesday and arrangements are being made to provide counseling to students, families and staff members.

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WAUSAU, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — A Wisconsin mother, her boyfriend and a convicted sex offender have been arrested in connection with the repeated sexual abuse of a young girl, police said on Friday.

Officials with the Wausau Police Department said that two men and one woman have been arrested in connection with the abuse, which involved a 9-year-old girl. It is believed the abuse had been taking place over a period of at least several weeks prior to the arrests.

One of the men, identified as 38-year-old Clyde R. McCollum, was previously convicted in 1998 of aggravated child sexual abuse on a victim under the age of 13. Other details about that case were not immediately available.

The other man was said to be the boyfriend of the mother of the victim, who was arrested because she allegedly allowed the abuse to take place. It was not immediately clear, however, if she was directly involved with the abuse.

Authorities began to investigate the case after they received a report that McCollum was bragging about having a relationship with a 9-year-old girl and wanting to have a child with her.

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