Deputy cleared in March's fatal Rib Mountain shooting - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Deputy cleared in March's fatal Rib Mountain shooting


A Marathon County sheriff's deputy was cleared Friday of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting March 2 of a Wausau gunman high on methamphetamine and holding a friend hostage.

Deputy Brandon Stroik fatally shot John Hall in the head after 2 1/2 hours of negotiations to get him to put down a handgun and rifle and to free the hostage failed in the Town of Rib Mountain, District Attorney Teresa Wetzsteon said in a seven-page report on the early-morning shooting.

"Deputy Stroik had no reasonable opportunity to use any lesser means of force," the prosecutor wrote.

According tor Wetzsteon's report, a "very agitated" Hall, 33, had a level of meth in his blood after he was killed nearly double what has been reported in meth abusers who exhibit violent and irrational behavior.

The prosecutor's report detailed what happened about 1 a.m. when Deputy Megan Sowinski noticed a pickup truck parked at the intersection of Swan Avenue and Morning Glory Lane with a man outside with his hands raised.

According to Sowinski, Hall was sitting in the vehicle, pointing a gun at the man outside who told officers that Hall was "f*cking crazy and he has a gun pointed at me.”

The deputy said she advised Hall to drop his handgun several times and called for help.

When Stroik arrived, he positioned himself about 45 yards away from Hall and saw a rifle in the truck through his scope.

According to deputies, Hall said if officers came any closer he “was going to shoot them.” Hall asked for a cell phone and told the hostage that he was using him as a shield but said he didn't want to hurt anyone. Officers noticed Hall's finger was on the trigger of the handgun at one point.

Deputies attempted to negotiate with Hall by phone, but Hall said he didn't believe officers at the scene were real police officers.

At one point, Hall grabbed a rifle and pointed it toward the officers and the hostage. Sowinski said she ordered Hall to drop his gun at least 12 times.

According to deputies, Hall became visibly agitated. About 3:30 a.m., Stroik fired one shot from his rifle at Hall, hitting him in the face.

"Deputy Stroik stated that he felt the suspect was going to shoot the civilian hostage or possible other officers, with the civilian hostage being in the most immediate danger as Hall had moved the rifle barrel in the direction of the civilian hostage," Wetzsteon wrote.

A bag was found in Hall's pocket with meth inside.

Hall's wife of seven years said he had been in a car crash in 2016 and medical records showed a diagnosis of post-concussive syndrome. She said in the recent weeks leading up to the shooting, he had been increasingly paranoid and hallucinating.

In the hours before the shooting, Hall's wife said he began tearing the house apart and cutting wires because he thought people were listening to him or watching him. The hostage also witnessed this behavior, telling investigators he tried to leave when they parked at the intersection but Hall told him he would shoot him in the back.

The hostage, who was unnamed in the report, thought he was going to die that evening.

The prosecutor's report said Stroik enlisted in the Army in 2004 and served in Iraq from January 2006 until February 2007 where he was a "squad designated marksman" before he was discharged in May 2008 and joined the National Guard.

He graduated from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in April 2009 before beginning his law enforcement career with the Spencer Police Department.

He was a deputy sheriff in Columbia County from January 2010 until December 2013 when he joined the Marathon County Sheriff's Department as a patrol deputy, canine handler, SWAT team member and a sniper, Wetzsteon said.

Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks said Stroik was placed on administrative leave for about two weeks after the incident.

Hours of surveillance and dash cam video of the hostage and shooting incident were also released Friday by the state Department of Justice.

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