RE: Hunter shoots 5 dead
From Milwaukee Jouranl
Five dead, three injured after hunter denied access to tree stand
By MEG JONES
Posted: Nov. 21, 2004
Hayward - Five deer hunters were shot to death and three were wounded Sunday by a man who was hunting from someone else's tree stand in northern Wisconsin, authorities said.
The bizarre attack happened in the Sawyer County Town of Meteor about noon on the second day of the gun-deer season, a time when hundreds of thousands of deer hunters are in the woods.
Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said a man from the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. area, was arrested about 5 p.m. in Birchwood, just across the Sawyer County border in Washburn County.
Authorities said the rampage started after a hunting party saw a hunter they didn't know occupying their tree stand. That led to a confrontation. One victim used a walkie-talkie to call for help, but when other hunting partners came to the scene they also were shot, said Zeigle.
Some of the victims were from the Rice Lake area.
The wounded - all men - were taken to Lakeview Medical Center in Rice Lake. One man who was more seriously wounded than the other two was airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital in Marshfield where he was in critical condition. The other men were in stable and fair condition Sunday evening after surgery, a Lakeview Medical Center spokesman said.
Bill Wagner, 72, of Oshkosh, was about two miles away near Deer Lake with a party of about 20 other hunters. He said the incident was "very upsetting."
After they got word of a shooting, he and others went to round up the rest of the party. He said they heard sirens, planes and helicopters and noticed the surrounding roads blocked off.
"When you're hunting you don't expect somebody to try to shoot you and murder you," he said. "You have no idea who is coming up to you."
It took about three hours to round up the other hunters, who were up to four miles apart, Wagner said.
The incident won't dampen their hunt, he said.
"We're all old, dyed-in-wool hunters," he said. "We wouldn't go home because of this but we will keep it in our minds. We're not forgetting it."
Jon Sleik, chairman of the Town of Cedar Lake, in neighboring Barron County, said after rumors began flowing that the victims were from the Rice Lake area, many families were worried and desperate for information.
"It just looks like a real ugly situation," Sleik said. "Unbelievable. I guess you don't expect this kind of thing to happen here. I guess you don't expect it anywhere."
Town of Birchwood Chairwoman Jimmie Dimick, who has lived in the community for 40 years, noted that residents refer to this period as "holy week" (because) everybody goes deer hunting."
"Especially for this part of the state, this doesn't happen," Dimick said of the shootings.
Wayne Blackdeer was tending bar at the Country Side Bar in Hayward when he heard about the incident from hunters stopping Sunday afternoon for drinks.
"People were talking about it," said Blackdeer, who listened to authorities on a police scanner call for backup.
"I heard them say four of (the hunters) were DOA and possibly a fifth" was dead on arrival, Blackdeer said.
The shootings were also the talk of the Cruz'in Bar in Hayward.
"Some hunters coming in said that there's somebody out in the woods that has just been shooting people," said bartender Jamie Stark.
An ambulance driver who dispatches out of Hayward was called to the scene west of Exeland in southern Sawyer County, but he said he ended not transporting anyone because there were enough ambulances to handle the victims.
The ambulance driver, who spoke on the condition his name not be used, said he was told five people were dead in the woods and authorities were not allowing anyone to go from the staging area, off of County Highway C and Deer Lake Road, to the crime scene in the woods about a mile away.
A helicopter was seen taking off with one of the victims about 4 p.m. Sunday.
Dave Weitz, a Department of Natural Resources spokesman based in Eau Claire, said several game wardens were assisting at the scene. Weitz has worked for the DNR for decades.
"I can't ever remember anything that sounds like this happening before," said Weitz.
Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Kertscher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Complete coverage of this story will appear online later today and in the Milwuakee Journal Sentinel in the morning