A gunman suspected of fatally shooting a retired county judge at a Wisconsin home had a list of targets that included Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. Whitmer’s office and a law enforcement source said Saturday.
Douglas K. Uhde, 56, who has not been charged, is suspected of killing retired Juneau County Judge John Roemer at Roemer’s New Lisbon home on Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Saturday. in a press release.
Uhde was found in the basement of the house with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after police tried to negotiate with him. Uhde is hospitalized in critical condition, Justice Department officials said.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said Friday that the shooting seemed to be a “directed act” and that the gunman had selected targets that were “part of the judicial system.”
But investigators believe the gunman may have also planned to attack other government officials and found a list in his vehicle that contained the names of several other prominent elected leaders, a police official said. The other targets on the list, which mentioned Roemer, included Evers, McConnell and Whitmer, the official said.
Roemer was found tied to a chair in his home and fatally shot, the official said. The official was unable to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Uhde has an extensive criminal and prison history dating back at least two decades, including a case in which Roemer sentenced him to six years in prison on weapons charges. He was released from his last prison term in April 2020.
Zach Pohl, Whitmer’s deputy chief of staff, said his office was notified that his name appeared “on the list of Wisconsin gunmen.”
“Governor Whitmer has repeatedly shown that she is tough and will not be intimidated or intimidated into doing her job and working across the aisle to get things done for the people of Michigan,” Pohl said.
Whitmer became the object of protests and criticism after he blamed former President Donald Trump for stoking anger over COVID-19 restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists.
A trial held earlier this year in which four men charged in an alleged kidnapping plot of the Michigan Democrat resulted in the acquittal of two of the men. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict for the other two.
Roemer, 68, was a “very loving and encouraging man with a wonderful sense of humor who will be greatly missed by the community,” said Chip Wilke, pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mauston, where Roemer was president of the president of congregation and evangelism. “I was in my office several mornings a week.”
Wilke said after being notified of Roemer’s death on Friday, the pastor’s thought was “I’m glad we have Jesus and we know where he is.”
Roemer retired from the bench in 2017. He was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2010 and 2016. He previously served as Juneau County Assistant District Attorney and Assistant State Public Defender. He also worked in private practice and served as a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserves.
Investigators said there is no immediate danger to the public.
“The information that was collected indicated that it was a targeted act and that the targeting was based on some type of court case or court cases,” Kaul said.
The Juneau County Sheriff’s Office received a call that two shots were fired at a home in New Lisbon at 6:30 a.m. Friday, according to the Division of Criminal Investigation. The caller had fled the house and made the call from another house nearby.
Donna Voss, a neighbor, told The Associated Press that she heard police on a loudspeaker telling the man to give up and leave the house. She and public records said the house belonged to Roemer.
The Criminal Investigation Division said in a news release that officers outside tried to negotiate with the gunman and eventually entered the home shortly after 10 a.m. — the old man in the basement with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was taken to a medical center.
Kaul said the suspect was in critical condition.
For Voss, the shooting came as a surprise in a generally quiet neighborhood where houses sit alongside farmland and wooded lots about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Madison.
“It’s amazing and really weird,” he said.
New Lisbon, which has a population of about 2,500 people, is located in Juneau County in central Wisconsin.
Kolpack reported from Fargo, North Dakota. Balsamo reported from Washington, D.C.
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