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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
5 hunters dead after Wis. treestand dispute

By Joshua Freed
Associated Press — Nov. 22, 2004

BIRCHWOOD, Wis. — A dispute among deer hunters over a tree stand in northwestern Wisconsin erupted Sunday in a series of shootings that left five people dead and three others injured, officials said.

Jake Hodgkinson, a deputy at the county jail, identified the suspect as Chai Vang but would give no additional details.

Several news organizations in Minneapolis-St. Paul reported the suspect was 36 years old and from St. Paul.

The incident happened when two hunters were returning to their rural cabin on private land in Sawyer County and saw the suspect in one of their tree stands, County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said. A confrontation and shooting followed.

It's not known who shot first, Zeigle said.

Both men were wounded and one of them radioed back to the cabin. Other hunters responded and were shot, he said. Some of the victims may have shot back at the suspect, Zeigle said.

The suspect was "sniping" at the victims with a SKS assault-style rifle, Zeigle said. He was "chasing after them and killing them," he said.

The dead included four males, including a teen-age boy, and a woman, Zeigle said. The man who radioed for help was not fatally wounded. Some of the victims were shot more than once.

All five were dead when officers arrived, he said.

Authorities found two bodies near each other and the other three were scattered around the area, which is near Town of Meteor in southwestern Sawyer County. Two people who stayed in the cabin emerged safely after the shootings.

The suspect, who did not have a compass, got lost in the woods and two other hunters, not knowing the man was being sought in the shootings, helped him find his way out, Zeigle said.

When he emerged from the woods, a Department of Natural Resources officer recognized the deer license on his back, given to police by a victim, Zeigle said.

The man was out of bullets when they arrested him, Zeigle said.

One of the injured hunters was in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital. Another was listed in serious condition and the third was in fair condition, both at Lakeview Medical Center.

Wisconsin's statewide deer gun-hunting season started Saturday and lasts for nine days.

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."

The incident won't stop 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."

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That guy must be whacked man. It does go to show that even the woods aren't completely safe. I wonder if we will ever know the whole story of what happened and I also noticed the press got in their usual "assault style" rifle.

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It is obvious the man was mentally unstable. The problem is ALL hunters will feel the aftermath of this.

Such as, "Stuff like this wouldn't happen if we just stopped hunting and banned guns altogether."

But my response to that is, any person that is that unstable to shoot another person is not going to reasonably make the right choice to not carry a gun even if it is illegal.

I feel bad for the families of the other victims...

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There still seems to be many unanswered questions and more questions being asked than answered. It appears now this guy may have been involved in a hunting related shooting in 2001.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
More details coming in

Hunter spotted Vang after shootings
Associated Press
November 24, 2004 GASS1125

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Daryl Gass came across a man lost in the woods and pointed him down a logging road. Only later did he learn the man, who seemed polite but nervous, was suspected in a shootout that killed six hunters and wounded two others.

``He didn't seem winded or sweaty,'' Gass, 41, of New Auburn, told the Leader-Telegram of Eau Claire for a story Wednesday.

Gass first saw Chai Vang around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Vang said he was lost, Gass said.

He recognized the road Vang was looking for, but the man didn't have a compass so Gass said he advised him to follow a busy logging road.

``He said, `I don't really want to go that way,''' Gass told the newspaper. ``I thought that was odd.''

Gass said he wanted to tell Vang, who was wearing a camouflage jacket, it was dangerous to walk in the woods without blaze orange.

``I had a feeling not to say anything and let it go,'' Gass said. ``He seemed peculiar. I didn't want to push any buttons.''

Gass told the newspaper he radioed his 18-year-old son so he wouldn't mistake the camouflaged Vang for a deer. His son saw Vang walk on a logging trail for about 15 yards and said he was ``hoofing it pretty fast.''

Gass's phone number was unpublished and he could not be reached Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Before Vang approached him, Gass heard shots from the murder scene but attributed them to hunting activity.

``If he was shooting the victims, it was
one or two shots at a time, and he was taking some aim,'' Gass said.

About 20 minutes after Vang left, hunters on an all-terrain vehicle approached Gass, telling him someone was shooting hunters. Gass, his son and a friend scrambled from their tree stands.

``I'm a sitting duck up there, and my son is a sitting duck. We kept our guns loaded if he was sniping people,'' he said.

Gass's hunting party reached authorities as armed officers, dogs and helicopters scoured the area.

``The sheriff said, `You're lucky to be alive. As far as I'm concerned, the guy was taking out witnesses,' `` Gass told the paper.

Vang, 36, of St. Paul, Minn., was arrested a few hours later as he emerged from the woods. He's being held on $2.5 million bond. The state attorney general said charges were expected Monday at the earliest.

Gass has hunted on the land since 1991 and said he won't let Sunday's tragedy ruin the sport.

``I don't relate it to hunting,'' he said. ``You can be in a bank or grocery store and somebody can come in and kill people. You still got to buy groceries.''

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Any link with the military is always emphasized in the media

Suspect was sharpshooter in the Guard
Massacre spurs probe of '01 death in nearby county

By Ted Gregory and Glenn Jeffers
Tribune staff reporters
Published November 25, 2004

RICE LAKE, Wis. -- As blaze orange-ribbon memorials started appearing on car antennas in this north woods community and grieving residents prepared funerals for six people killed in a deer-hunting trespassing dispute, more details emerged Wednesday about the man suspected of the crime.

Military records show that Chai Soua Vang, 36, a St. Paul truck driver, received a U.S. Army commendation as a sharpshooter and was a qualified rifleman in the use of an M-16 during his six years with the National Guard.

In addition, St. Paul police reported that they had been called to Vang's home five times since June 2003. In two of those incidents, Vang called police to settle domestic disputes at his home.

Meanwhile, law-enforcement authorities from nearby Clark County said they have contacted local authorities to investigate whether Vang had any connection to an unsolved homicide three years ago that resembled the rampage that occurred on the opening weekend of Wisconsin's popular deer-hunting season.

Accounts differ about precisely how the Sunday shootings began. In a statement made to investigators Monday, Vang, a Hmong immigrant from Laos and naturalized U.S. citizen, reportedly said he mistakenly had wandered upon the deer stand. According to authorities, Vang said he was taunted by racial slurs before one of the hunters pointed a rifle at him and fired a shot, which missed as Vang crouched.

Vang said he then began shooting the people, according to police.

One of the hunters who survived gave a different account, saying Vang fired the first shots.

Vang has not been formally charged but is being held on $2.5 million bail.

Account rejected

Family and friends of the killed and wounded hunters have rejected Vang's account, saying he is trying to reduce his own responsibility for killing six people and wounding two others.

"I can't imagine any of them doing anything like that," Karen Roidt, mother of slain hunter Mark Roidt, said Wednesday. "It just doesn't make any sense."

Haugen Village President Steve Salmi, who served on the Village Board with slain hunter Robert Crotteau and was a close friend of Allan Laski, another man fatally shot Sunday, said, "Deer hunters can get a little territorial."

But Salmi said even during heated discussions on the war in Iraq, "I never heard an ugly word come out of [Crotteau]," Salmi said. "Wouldn't have hurt a flea.

"It doesn't sound to me that that would be in their personality," Salmi said of Vang's allegations that the hunters derided him with racial epithets. And, Salmi said, even heated words failed to justify Vang's actions.

Vang's military record suggests he was skilled with a rifle. U.S. Army files show that he received an Army Service Ribbon as a sharpshooter and earned a qualification badge in the use of an M-16 rifle.

Vang also received an expert qualification badge in using hand grenades and earned a California Good Conduct Medal, Army records released Wednesday show.

Vang entered the California Army National Guard in January 1989 and was assigned to a medical detachment in Sacramento. He attended basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., followed by enrolling in a patient administration specialist course at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

Ready Reserve

Records show Vang left the National Guard in January 1995 and transferred to Individual Ready Reserve, an inactive group, until he completed his eight-year obligation in 1997 and was discharged.

Vang's formal contact with St. Paul police amounted to him calling them to settle domestic disputes on June 1 and July 12, 2003, at his home. Vang reported that his car was stolen on July 8, 2003, and that a woman who police said was his wife or girlfriend had stolen more than $200 from him on Sept. 10, 2003, St. Paul police spokesman Paul Schnell said Wednesday.

Police also came to Vang's home Sept. 15, 2003, to arrest a man wanted on a theft charge, Schnell said.

No arrests were made in the domestic disputes and records of the incidents have been purged, Schnell said.

Authorities in Clark County, southeast of Sawyer County, where the Sunday shootings took place, said they have begun investigating any possible connections between the weekend shootings and an unsolved homicide that took place during deer-hunting season in 2001.

James Southworth, 37, was shot twice in the back on Nov. 23, 2001, on his family's land in Lynn, Wis., Clark County Chief Deputy Jim Backus said.

Witnesses told police that they saw three Asian males near a pickup truck parked near where Southworth's body was found. One of the men was described as 5 feet 4 inches tall, the height Vang was listed as in his probable-cause statement.

Backus said detectives have been working on the theory that a dispute over land or trespassing lead to the Southworth shooting.

Southworth, the president of a cheese factory in Gilman, Wis., left a wife and two children, Backus said. A $50,000 reward has been offered for information in his death.

Backus said Vang or other members of his party are not considered suspects. "Our purpose is to gather information on the Sawyer County case that can lead to witnesses, either through Mr. Vang or the Hmong community," Backus said.

The first funeral will take place Friday for Mark Roidt, 28. Three more funerals follow Saturday.

"We moved up here [in 1997] to follow a 25-year dream for the peace and quiet of the north woods, and for a house on the lake," a weeping Karen Roidt said Wednesday. "That dream has ended. Our lives have just been turned upside down. Nobody knows what this has done. Nobody."

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune

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I am just puzzled by this entire incident! Things just don't seem to add up but I'm sure eventually they will get to the bottom of it all.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
'Chicago Tribune' Managing Editor Vows to Shield Reporter

By Lesley Messer

Published: July 28, 2005 5:15 PM ET

NEW YORKChicago Tribune Managing Editor James O'Shea said Thursday that if reporter Colleen Mastony is subpoenaed in the murder trial of six hunters in Wisconsin, the paper will do everything in its power to shield her from testifying.

On Wednesday, a circuit court judge in Wisconsin ruled that the jailhouse communications Mastony had with Chai Soua Vang, a 36-year-old Hmong immigrant accused of murdering six deer hunters last November, would be admissible at trial.

Mastony interviewed Vang over the phone and Vang sent her two letters, all of which were monitored by prison authorities. The Tribune has not published an account based on the correspondence.

"We routinely fight and resist all efforts to have our reporters testify in a case, particularly if it involves their notes," O'Shea told E&P Thursday. "Journalists are under attack almost universally, so it's probably more important today to defend what we view is our obligation to sources."

O'Shea declined to comment on what the paper's response would be if a Judith Miller/Matthew Cooper situation were to arise, but he said this case differs in that Mastony's involvement did not constitute a breach of national security.

"This is our job -- to go get the story," O'Shea said. "Colleen was aggressively pursuing that one. We did not make any of this public and we wouldn't have put it in the record. We will resist any efforts to make Colleen and her notes the subject of this subpoena.”

The managing editor added that the Tribune filed an amicus brief in the Miller/Cooper case defending The New York Times and Time magazine, both of which had been fighting a judge's orders that compelled their journalists to testify in the case of a leaked CIA agent's identity.

Illinois is one of several states that have a shield law that offers journalists some protection from compelled testimony.

“There are other ways to get at the information than to subpoena the reporters,” O'Shea said, speaking of past efforts where the Tribune has been successful in shielding reporters from testimony. “That's our policy as a newspaper, and that's not going to change.”

Steve Kohn, Vang's attorney, told the Associated Press that he expected Mastony to be on the witness lists for both the prosecution and the defense, although he was unsure whether or not she will be called to testify.

The trial is scheduled to start in September.

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Another interesting twist to our judicial system. I do understand both sides of the issue but doesn't there seem the need to draw a line somewhere in the proof on guilt or inocence?
Thanks for the post Guns! I hadn't seen any recent updates or info on this case from last year.
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