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Five killed in Wisconsin hunting dispute


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Five killed in Wisconsin hunting dispute

CTV.ca News Staff

Police are investigating after five hunters were killed and three others were injured over the weekend in northwestern Wisconsin, apparently following a dispute over a deer hunting spot.

A 36-year-old suspect has been arrested in the shootings, Sawyer County sheriff's officials said.

The shootings took place on Saturday -- the opening of the nine-day deer season. A dispute apparently erupted over a deer stand, an elevated position that hunters can shot from.

County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said two hunters were returning to their rural cabin on private land when they saw the suspect in one of their hunting platforms. A confrontation occurred and shots were fired.

It's not clear who fired first.

The returning hunters, who were injured in the shooting, radioed the cabin and others responded and were shot. About 20 shots were fired, but Zeigle said it's not clear who shot them.

"This is completely nuts," said Zeigle. "Why? I mean, five people dead because somebody was trespassing on property. It makes no sense."

All the dead were from the Rice Lake area. They included a teenage boy and a woman. Some of the victims had been shot more than once, Zeigle said.

The suspect apparently got lost in the woods after the rampage, and two hunters who didn't know about the shootings helped him out of the woods.

An officer with the Department of Natural Resources noticed his deer licence on his back, and arrested him. The licence had been reported to police by a victim, Zeigle said.

One of the injured hunters is in critical condition. Another is in serious condition and a third is listed in fair condition.

With files from The Associated Press

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Guest long keel

We all have em...

My favorite local story was of the three men who stole a high end car from its owner at the Boulevard club. They pistol whipped the owner, put him in the trunk, then left the car with him in it for dead. Luckily the owner survived to tell the tale.

Several weeks later one of the gunman forgot his pistol with matching prints at Scarborough Centre Mall. He called the malls lost and found to see if it was still there. Police simply met and arrested the suspect seconds after he collected his gun from the lost and found desk.


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Guest rattler
Inbred hicks killing over an hunting spot what is that a grade two level.

Seems that the facts are quite different.

November 23, 2004

Motive in Hunting Deaths Is a Riddle


AYWARD, Wis., Nov. 22 - Twenty-four years ago, a youth named Chai Soua Vang was part of the first wave of immigrants from Laos who came to the United States after the Indochina war. Since then he has married, worked as a truck driver, fathered six children, learned to speak English fluently and become an American citizen.

On Sunday, according to the police, he shot eight hunters in a bloody spree that has left the region dumbfounded. Five of the hunters died on Sunday, and The Associated Press reported that a sixth died in the hospital on Monday night.

Sheriff James Meier of Sawyer County said at a news conference on Monday that a couple of the hunters had discovered Mr. Vang in their private hunting platform and asked him to leave. He did so, but after walking about 40 yards, he suddenly stopped.

"For some apparent reason, he turned around and opened fire," Sheriff Meier said. "The action makes no sense."

Sheriff Meier said Mr. Vang, who was arrested about five hours after the killings when he was found walking nearby, was "showing some cooperation with law enforcement" but had not yet been arraigned. The sheriff described Mr. Vang's demeanor as "extremely calm."

Family deer hunts at the end of November are a deeply rooted tradition here in the North Woods, so it was perhaps inevitable that several of the victims were related. Two were father and son. Another two were father and daughter.

Mr. Vang is one of more than 45,000 members of the Hmong ethnic group from Southeast Asia who have moved to Minnesota since the 1970's. Thousands of Hmong fought in a "secret army" that the Central Intelligence Agency assembled to fight Communism there in the 70's. The State Department has granted them special visa consideration as an expression of American gratitude.

Mr. Vang, 36, lives in St. Paul, which according to the 2000 census has about 25,000 Hmong. They make up a larger percentage of the population there than they do in any other American city.

Mr. Vang's younger brother, Sang Vang, 32, arrived in Hayward, which is about 120 miles northeast of St. Paul, on Monday in the hopes of seeing him. "I don't know what happened," Sang Vang told The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Clashes between white and Laotian hunters are not unknown. Some Laotians have complained that whites harass them with racial taunts, while some whites say not all Laotians respect property rights. The killings were on private land.

Sheriff Meier said that since investigators had not yet talked to the survivors, details remained unclear. He said the shootings happened south of the small town of Meteor, where 14 or 15 hunters were making an annual trip to their cabin there.

Around noon on Sunday some of them, apparently unarmed, noticed an unfamiliar man in their hunting platform. They called back to their cabin on a walkie-talkie to ask if anyone had permission to use it. When told that no one did, they asked the intruder to leave.

After the shooting began, one victim managed to call the cabin again. Several friends immediately came to help; the shooter attacked them, too.

Robert Crotteau, 42, and his 20-year-old son, Joey, were among the dead. The lone woman to die, Jessica Willert, 27, was the daughter of a wounded man, Terry Willert. Al Laski, 43, and Mark Roidt, 28, were the remaining two who died on Sunday. Dennis Drew was reported to have died late Monday. Mr. Drew's brother-in-law, Lauren Hesebeck, was wounded.

Mr. Meier said the killer probably chased his victims down as they tried to flee.

"He would have had to be roaming around to inflict that kind of damage," he said. "There may have been some attempt to fire back."

Before the killer left, one of the victims noted the hunting license number that he wore on the back of his orange vest, in accordance with Wisconsin law. He passed it to the police, who quickly identified Mr. Vang.

Just after 5 p.m., officers arrested Mr. Vang beside a road less than a mile from where the shootings had occurred. He was carrying a Chinese-designed SKS semiautomatic rifle, which is legal to own and not uncommon in these parts. He had a valid hunting license.

The victims were a close-knit group from nearby Barron County.

"This incident has certainly put our community in a sense of disarray and disbelief," said Thomas J. Richie, the Barron County sheriff. "I don't believe there are words that can explain it to us."

Despite the horror that is reverberating through Wisconsin and Minnesota in the aftermath of the killings, no one could be found here who thought they would have any impact on the region's hunting culture.

"It's not going to change me or my ways at all," said Al Segel, a police officer from Milwaukee who was hunting on Monday. "It might make people a little more wary of who's on their land, but no one around here is going to be scared out of hunting, that's for sure."

Mr. Segel's buddy, Mark Harrell, a firefighter, said he was looking forward to the time he could take his son, who is 4, on a hunting trip.

"You have to be 12 to get a license, but sometime before that I'll be bringing him out to show him what it's all about," Mr. Harrell said.

At a sporting goods store on the edge of Hayward, hunters arrived in a steady stream on Monday to file forms registering their kill. One, the Rev. Keith Swanson, a Lutheran minister from St. Paul, turned up with a buck and a doe.

"Something like this can't help but have an effect," Mr. Swanson said. "It's shocking and it's sobering. There will be a lot of reflection, I'm sure. Still, people will be out tomorrow and next year. I plan to be."

The store's owner, Dennis Meyer, said the nine-day deer season at Thanksgiving was "a huge thing."

"It's what families do together," Mr. Meyer said. "Schools close down. Even sons and daughters and cousins who have moved away come back for it.

"You ever see an SKS?" Mr. Meyer suddenly asked. He walked to a cabinet and pulled one out.

"These were banned from importation for a while because they're easily converted into fully automatic weapons," he said as he held the rifle. "But in this form, they're a dime a dozen. You can buy one for $100. Great gun for kids, actually. No kick to it."

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First off from reading the newspapers this does seem to be an isolated incidence. It seems that the shooter was mentally unbalanced.

In my opinion the sad part of the story is that they allow hunting licences to 12 year old children. A hundred years ago , children needed to know how to hunt so that the family had food for the winter. They were also expected to take on an adult role in feeding the livestock , harvesting etc.

Today hunting is merely sport for most Canadians and Americans. Many families here in my province depend on the Americans coming up to hunt bird and large game. They have become outfitters and provide very good services. Other hunters just arrive and ask farmers to hunt on their land paying them a fee.

The saddest part of this is that some hunters are irresponsible and are here to kill for the sport. They do not follow the daily limit but keep on shooting.

We have found dumping grounds in all parts of the province with up to a thousand birds per dump. This is unacceptable ! If you want to hunt then abide by the rules of the country. And if you don't want the meat then donate it to the food banks.

AC now charges 150.00 per rack of horns , antlers etc. regardless of how many bags they check. They must be properly packaged in leak proof containers etc. This policy has caught many off guard as they checkin and you can bet next year they won't be telling us what they have packed in their suitcases. This will possibly result in more damage claims from the non hunters whose baggage is damaged. Why not just charge them 75.00 ( to the US) for an extra peice if it's properly packed ? It's not cheap to come up and hunt but then the Americans who do come seem to have lots of money. They are all very polite and love to come up here. Even had a party disappointed that it wasn't colder with snow. Sheesh maybe they wanted to tell a story of chasing deer down thru 2 ft snowbanks -go figure!

If anyone out there knows why this policy was introduced please tell me. We don't want to discourage the hunters but I feel we are not doing enough to spread the word to everyone involved about the extra cost of antlers.

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Wis. suspect says he was taunted

A Minnesota man arrested in the weekend shooting deaths of six Wisconsin deer hunters and the wounding of two others told sheriff's investigators he began his rampage after he was fired on first and taunted with racial slurs, according to a court document filed Tuesday. (Related story: Hunters stunned by slayings)

Inspectors survey the shooting scene near a deer stand where six people were killed and two others wounded.

Bail for Chai Vang, 36, of St. Paul was set at $2.5 million by a judge in Hayward, Wis. Vang's initial court appearance will be Nov. 30. He has not been formally charged but is being held on probable cause of committing six homicides and two attempted homicides.

The deadly confrontation began Sunday in the woods of northwest Wisconsin when a hunter told Vang he was trespassing on private property. Vang, who had said he was lost, was sitting in a hunting stand, an elevated platform used by hunters waiting for deer.

The hunter called on a walkie-talkie to others in his group of 14 or 15 in a nearby cabin. Five or six arrived on two all-terrain vehicles and began calling Vang "names like 'gook, chink,' " according to Vang's account in the affidavit.

Vang's account contradicted

Vang, a U.S. Army veteran and father of six who came to the USA from Laos about 25 years ago, told investigators he started walking away after being told to leave. He said he was about 100 feet from the group when one of the hunters pointed a rifle at him. Vang said he dropped to a crouch position and the hunter fired one shot, which landed 30 to 40 feet behind him.

Vang told investigators he shot the hunter who fired at him, then began shooting others. "Vang stated that two or three more men fell to the ground," the document says. Two others started to run, and Vang chased one of them, shooting several times.

"Vang stated that he got to about 15 to 20 feet of the man who was still running away, and Vang shot him in the back. ... Vang stated that the man did not have a gun," the affidavit says.

One hunter radioed to the cabin: "We've been shot and need help," the document says. Two more ATVs arrived — one with three people, the other with two. Vang said he shot three or four times at the ATV carrying two people. "Both people fell off the ATV and onto the ground," the document says.

At one point, Vang said he ran back toward where the shooting started and saw a man standing. Vang shouted, "You're not dead yet?" and fired one shot, the affidavit says. He didn't know if the bullet hit the man.

Vang said he then ran away and discarded his remaining ammunition, because "he decided that he did not want to shoot anybody else," the document says.

According to the affidavit, police found one rifle at the scene.

Vang's account differs from the one told by police Monday after talking with survivors and witnesses. Police said that after Vang was told to get out of the hunting stand, he walked away, spun and opened fire.

The shooting took place in a region of the upper Midwest with a history of conflicts between hunters and Southeast Asian immigrants. Sunday's shootings has intensified racial tensions there.

Vang is one of 24,000 Hmong in St. Paul who migrated from Laos after the Vietnam War. The Hmong have a tradition of hunting and fishing and sometimes have struggled to comply with hunting regulations and distinctions between private and public land.

"I've heard from white hunters of conflicts with Hmong hunters," says Ilean Her, director of the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, a state agency based in St. Paul. "They complain that Hmong don't know the hunting laws, don't care about hunting laws, and don't try to fit in."

Leaders of St. Paul's Hmong community met Tuesday to condemn the attacks and offer condolences.

"We are shocked about this horrific tragedy," says Michael Yang, a Hmong community activist. "We are a law-abiding community. We are part of the fabric of American society."

Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, condemned what he called the "stereotyping" of the Hmong in the aftermath of the shootings.

"It was an irrational individual who committed an extremely irrational act," Johnson says.

"Did it make a difference that he is a Hmong? No more than it would have if he were white or black or Hispanic."

'Opportunity to bigots'

Mee Moua, a Hmong in Minnesota's state Senate, says the shootings have provided "an opportunity to bigots to voice their misperceptions." She noted that Vang was an experienced hunter who was properly dressed and had his hunting license. It is not uncommon for hunters of any ethnic group to mistakenly wander onto private land, she says.

Vang was arrested several hours after the shootings carrying an unloaded SKS 7.62mm semiautomatic rifle, which fires one shot with each pull of the trigger. It is a legal rifle, manufactured in China.

"The SKS rifle is not one that is used often by deer hunters," says John Badowski of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gunmakers trade group. "It has an underpowered cartridge for most big-game animals. It lacks power."

However, the SKS can hold 20 rounds of ammunition in its magazine. The magazine was empty when found by police.

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