STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: An incident in Appleton triggered another gun rights debate
An incident in Appleton last weekend has triggered another national debate over gun rights. Two men openly carried A-R-15 rifles and handguns as they headed to a farmer's market. Police said they briefly detained the two men -- both in their 20's -- and let them go after they determined they were carrying their weapons legally. The men's encounter with police has stirred up debate on the Internet, and Wisconsin's pro-and-anti-gun forces weighed in with remarks to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Nik Clark of the gun rights' group Wisconsin Carry says police need to follow up on gun complaints, but they must abide by people's constitutional rights. Clark said Appleton Police went beyond their authority when they pointed guns at the men and involuntarily detained them. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn disagrees. He said that in a quote, "post-Aurora-Newtown environment, it's a reckless and irresponsible stunt to strut around in public with an assault-style weapon and think police should assume you're well-intentioned." Flynn said the incident was absurd and had nothing to do with Second Amendment gun rights. One of the men told the Journal Sentinel it's too early to decide if they'll sue the police. Similar arrests have led to at least four lawsuit settlements in Wisconsin, in which taxpayers ended up paying those who were stopped.
A man accused of assaulting two Marathon County Jail officers has asked for a second opinion about his mental ability to stand trial. Circuit Judge Michael Moran was scheduled to decide yesterday whether to rule 21-year-old Fredrick Morris competent, and get his case going again -- but the request for another opinion delayed the decision. Online court records did not list a hearing date when the new findings would be reviewed. Morris has pleaded innocent-by-insanity to three felony charges -- two of battery by prisoners, and one of aggravated battery. Prosecutors said Morris refused to return to his cell on March 27th, and he assaulted correctional officers Julie Christensen and Denney Woodward. Christensen broke her skull, and she's still recovering. Morris is being held in neighboring Lincoln County under a quarter-million-dollar bond. His mother has said that Morris has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and he might not have been taking his medications when the attacks occurred.
A wounded soldier from Reedsburg said he's impressed at how 11 people are recovering, after they lost arms and legs in the Boston Marathon bombing in April. B-J Ganem was part of a military group that met with the amputees soon after the bombing, to provide hope and inspiration. Yesterday, Ganem and a dozen other veterans were reunited with the Boston amputees -- and they were all saluted by thousands last night at a New England Patriots' football game. The 36-year-old Ganem lost part of his lower leg in Iraq in 2004. He said he's impressed by how far the Boston amputees have come -- and how well they've adjusted to their new prosthetic limbs. Ganem says a lot of amputees are walking perfectly now -- and they're improving a lot faster than he and many of his military colleagues did. A group called Operation Warrior Wishes brought the troops and the Boston amputees together.
A former Wisconsin Rapids man has pleaded innocent to killing his daughter's ex-boyfriend five-and-a-half years ago. 54-year-old Joseph Reinwand also entered innocent pleas yesterday to Wood County charges of arson, and two counts of felony bail jumping. Prosecutors said Reinwand shot 35-year-old Dale Meister to death in 2008, while the victim was sitting on his couch at his mobile home. Meister and his girlfriend reportedly had a child custody dispute -- and according to prosecutors, Meister told at least 18 people that if he were ever found dead, it would be Reinwand that killed him. The charges were not filed until May, after the defendant reportedly told fellow inmates at the Wood County jail and the Stanley prison that he killed Meister. Authorities said Reinwand re-enacted the crime for one of the men -- and he told a Stanley prisoner that he stalked Meister before choking and shooting him. Reinwand is currently at Stanley for an unrelated conviction. He's scheduled to go on trial next May for Meister's death.
It seems hard to believe after our recent hot spell, but the temperature dropped below freezing in at least one part of northern Wisconsin this morning. Tomahawk reported 31 degrees at five o'clock, just a few days after Wisconsinites sweated in the 80's-and-90's for the greater part of a week. Generally, northern Wisconsin was in the 30's-and-40's this morning, while the south was in the 40's-and-50's. A high pressure system from Canada moved into northwest Wisconsin late last night. Cool north winds arrived in advance of the front, and that prevented the state from seeing 80-degrees yesterday. Forecasters expected highs in the 60's statewide for today, and the more normal 70's for tomorrow. The next chance of rain is on Sunday. Far southern Wisconsin could get up to an inch of rain that day.
The logging company that's blamed for this spring's massive forest fire in northwest Wisconsin said it did not withhold information from state investigators. Earlier this week, the D-N-R ordered Ray Duerr Logging of Rib Lake to pay the 630-thousand-dollar cost of fighting the blaze from mid-May in Douglas County. The D-N-R said the company was negligent by not properly maintaining a tree-cutting machine which sparked the fire. Investigators also said they were not told until later that a fire-suppression system in the machine did not have enough water pressure to put out the initial flames. The logging company's attorney issued a statement claiming the D-N-R made quote, "inaccurate and incomplete statements," and that the firm fully cooperated with the state. Attorney Bill Grunewald of Medford said Duerr's loggers acted quickly to put out an initial fire -- and they tried putting out a second fire, but it spread so rapidly that there was not enough time to use the pressurized water system. Grunewald said the system was tested later -- and it took far longer to activate it than the time the loggers had to control the second blaze. D-N-R spokesman Bill Cosh says his agency stands by its investigation. The forest fire damaged 74-hundred acres of woodlands, destroyed 17 homes, and caused mass evacuations for two days.
It's been 25 years since a tribute to Vietnam veterans was unveiled on a plaza above a scenic vista in central Wisconsin. Tomorrow, a ceremony will be held to observe the anniversary of the first major monument at the Highground Veterans' Memorial Park west of Neillsville in Clark County. "Fragments" depicts a fallen soldier and those who helped him. Highground founder Tom Miller said he was inspired to put up the monument after he was caught in ambush in 1965 in Vietnam, and his partner died. Miller says "Fragments" was the first Vietnam war tribute in the U-S that honored women as well as men. Miller was the leading force in the opening the Highground in the late 1980's. It was solely dedicated to Vietnam veterans at first, but it has since expanded to include tributes for other wars and conflicts. At tomorrow's ceremony, the names of all 12-hundred-44 Wisconsin service members killed or missing-in-action in Vietnam will be read.