Wisconsin Department of Justice Investigates Officers’ Harrowing Encounter During Welfare Check in Rhinelander

RHINELANDER, Wis. – An investigation is underway by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation into an incident where officers exchanged gunfire during a welfare check near Rhinelander on Saturday night.

The incident began when the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office received two hang-up 911 calls around 8:40 p.m., prompting a welfare check at a residence on River Street in the town of Crescent. Responding to the call, three Oneida County Sheriff’s deputies and two officers from the Rhinelander police force arrived at the scene.

Upon entering the home, law enforcement officers were met with gunfire from within the residence. One of the deputies returned fire before all officers retreated outside and took cover. The individual continued to shoot at the officers from the second floor of the house, leading to an exchange of gunfire, according to investigators.

In response to the escalating situation, a tactical team consisting of members from the Vilas, Oneida, Marathon, and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Offices was called in for assistance. Despite attempts to engage verbally with the individual, there was no response. Non-lethal tactics were deployed in an effort to resolve the standoff.

Eventually, the second person inside the residence emerged and was evaluated by emergency medical services on-site. The tactical team then entered the house and discovered the other individual was deceased.

Fortunately, no law enforcement personnel were injured during the incident. As part of department policy, the officers from the Rhinelander Police Department and deputies from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office involved in the incident have been placed on administrative duty.

Both the Rhinelander Police Department and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office were equipped with body cameras and have squad cameras, providing valuable evidence for the investigation. Leading the investigation is the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, with support from the Crime Response Specialists and the Digital Evidence Unit.

The investigation is ongoing, with the DCI reviewing evidence to ascertain the facts surrounding the incident. Upon concluding the investigation, the investigative reports will be turned over to the Oneida County District Attorney.

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