Afternoon State News Briefs: FBI wraps up investigation into temple shootingWisconsin News
-- The FBI wrapped up its investigation of the mass shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek today, with the building to be re-opened tomorrow.
OAK CREEK - The FBI wrapped up its investigation of the mass shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek today, with the building to be re-opened tomorrow.
Sikh leaders and construction workers were allowed inside today to repair bullet holes and other damage. Funerals for the six victims are scheduled for tomorrow morning at a nearby high school. Temple leaders plan to sit down with Oak Creek police next week to discuss whether additional security measures are called for.
The Oak Creek police lieutenant who was shot-and-wounded while trying to save a victim of last Sunday’s Sikh Temple shootings is getting better today. 51-year-old Brian Murphy was taken off the critical list at Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital, and he’s now listed as satisfactory. He was shot up to nine times last Sunday by Wade Michael Page, who also wounded three others and killed six more before killing himself. Santokh Singh’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious. He was wounded in his chest, stomach, and diaphragm. The other hospitalized victim, Punjab Singh, was still critical at last word. The fourth wounded person was treated and later released.
Governor Scott Walker met with the families of three Sikh Temple members who were killed. Walker went to their homes in Oak Creek. Spokesman Jocelyn Webster said the nature of the meetings would remain private, but they were all very emotional. The governor’s office also said visitors to the State Capitol can write condolence notes in a book that’s in the Rotunda. It will be kept there for at least a week before it’s delivered to the Sikh community in Oak Creek. Webster said a DNR employee came up with the idea for the visitors’ book. Walker said it’s important to quote, “stand together as a state in condemning this kind of evil, and lifting up our neighbors in need.”
This evening in Oak Creek, U.S. Attorney James Santelle will hold a two-hour public meeting to encourage community healing. It begins at five at Oak Creek High School, and it’s open to the public.
The state’s First Lady, Tonette Walker, was released from a hospital today after she had her appendix removed. She had the appendectomy early yesterday, after being admitted on Tuesday night with chest pains. Governor Scott Walker spent most of yesterday with his wife in the hospital. Today, he met several victims of the Sikh Temple massacre before planning to spend the rest of the day with Tonette at their suburban Milwaukee home.
A former court clerk in Marathon County is free on a signature bond, after she was charged with stealing over five-thousand dollars from a law firm where she once worked. 58-year-old Susan Adams of Wausau is charged with seven felony counts of forgery, and a felony embezzlement count. Soon afterward, she was fired from her post in the Marathon County clerk of courts office when a judge told her she couldn’t hold a job in which she handled money. Adams had been accused of taking the law firm’s money to help pay back 120-thousand dollars she owed, following a conviction in federal court of another embezzlement in 1994. Authorities said she took that money from the former M-and-I Bank in Wausau. Nine years later, officials said Adams was suspected of embezzling funds from a technology firm in Rothschild – but she was fired without being charged. She later went to work for the law firm of Hess, Dexter, Reinertson, and Brunner in Wausau. She left there in March of this year, and the firm later found that she wrote seven checks to herself, forged them, and cashed them – and she admitted overpaying business credit cards and keeping the excess funds. Officials said Adams also refinanced a home loan and cashed in a 401-K account to re-pay the bank. She began working for Marathon County in April.
Racine County taxpayers spent $5,400 so Republicans could challenge a state Senate election that gave Democrats control of that chamber. Republican Van Wanggaard of Racine lost his June fifth recall contest to Democrat John Lehman by 834 votes out of 72,000 cast. An ensuing recount that Wanggaard requested still had him losing by 819 votes. He thought about challenging the recount in court, but he decided against it. And after a month of delays, Lehman was finally allowed to take his Senate seat in mid-July, and Democrats took charge at least until the next scheduled elections this fall. Wanggaard and his fellow Republicans said there might have been heavy voter fraud in the recall contest. But Democrats said any errors were procedural and unintentional. And they thought Wanggaard should have conceded in June, saying the margin was too big to overcome. Wanggaard paid $685 for the recount – the standard five-dollars a ward – and it left taxpayers to cover the rest. The biggest expense was for new memory packs to store the recount results electronically without disturbing the original tally.
A rafter who drowned after falling in the Menominee River at the Wisconsin-Michigan border has been identified as 59-year-old Mark Fackler of Mundelein, Michigan. The incident happened Tuesday afternoon in Dickinson County, at the border with northeast Wisconsin. Authorities said Fackler was part of a group that was rafting on Piers Gorge when his boat tipped over. A second person in the raft escaped unharmed. Rescuers found Fackler’s body late Tuesday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Drought conditions in Wisconsin have not changed much in the last week – but things could improve today, with rain in the forecast statewide until this evening. The U.S. Drought Monitor released its weekly map this morning, reflecting drought conditions as of Tuesday. Just over 51-percent of the state’s land area was listed as being in drought – same as a week ago. All or parts of 12 southern-most counties are still considered to have “extreme” drought conditions. Milwaukee and Madison are no longer in the state’s worst drought category. But they’re still listed as being in a “severe” drought region, in a territory that stretches northward to La Crosse, Neillsville, and the Wisconsin Rapids area. Moderate drought conditions stretch along a curve from Alma to Marshfield to Appleton to Port Washington. It’s abnormally dry along a curve from Eau Claire to Wausau to Manitowoc. The National Weather Service says two low-pressure systems are bringing rain to the state today. By mid-morning, Whitehall reported the most, with almost nine-tenths-of-an-inch. Parts of northwest Wisconsin had trees-and-power lines down as part of a wave of thunderstorms that hit eastern Minnesota late last night. Some roads were blocked at Hudson.
Wisconsin normally starts getting more cases of the West Nile Virus about now. But the state continues to escape a trend of rising human cases elsewhere in the nation’s mid-section. The Health Services Department reports only three cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile, all in birds in Pierce, Washington, and Dane counties. There have been no human cases reported in Wisconsin yet, while neighboring Minnesota has had seven. Horses can also get West Nile, but none have been reported to have it in the Badger State yet. Several horses have been infected in Minnesota and the Dakotas. West Nile is spread by certain types of mosquitoes. The peak season for cases in the Upper Midwest is normally in August and September.
Is Wisconsin a red state or a blue state? Neither, according to two polls released yesterday. Surveys from the Marquette Law School and Quinnipiac University both give Democrat Barack Obama a 5-to-6 percentage lead in the state’s presidential contest. And those same polls show that Republican Governor Scott Walker has approval ratings above 50-percent. In the Marquette survey, 51-percent of 1,200 likely voters approved of the governor’s job performance, and 44-percent disapproved. The approval rating was a point higher than in July. And the Quinnipiac poll, co-sponsored by the New York Times and CBS News, gave Walker a 52-44 approval edge. Both polls were taken between July 31st and Monday.