After making threatening comments in the presence of a parishioner at Christus Lutheran Church Sunday, May 10, in Clintonville, a 27-year-old Clintonville man was taken into custody a few hours later.
Clintonville Police Chief Terry Lorge said the incident originally started around 9:30 a.m. when Rev. Brian Crocker of Christus Church had a conversation with a parishioner. During the conversation, Crocker shared some news with the parishioner that he did not take well.
“He became very upset, left the church,” Lorge said.
“Just prior to the 10:30 a.m. mass one of the other church parishioners was just arriving at the church, when the suspect came across the street and spoke to him,” Lorge added. “He was holding in his hand a Ruger handgun and two boxes of ammunition.”
Lorge said the suspect told the other parishioner that he was upset with Crocker and the church, and then walked north on Main Street.
The parishioner shared this information with Crocker, who then called the Clintonville Police Department around 10:30 a.m., Lorge said.
Additional officers were called in, as well as the Marion Police Department to assist. The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office also sent two squad cars to the scene.
The church was searched for the suspect and then secured because it was full of parishioners, Lorge said.
“Then we locked it down and secured it with an officer inside and officers outside,” Lorge said. “Then we established a safety perimeter around the church and in the immediate neighborhood because the suspect lived just down the street, not far from the church.”
Officers eventually entered the suspect’s apartment but did not find him there. Officers then searched the immediate area and tried contacting the suspect on his cell phone. The suspect did not answer his phone.
While this was taking place, Lorge said the parishioners were secured in the church for around 90 minutes.
“After we had the neighborhood secure and we were confident he wasn’t in the immediate area, we assisted the parishioners in leaving the church safely, with armed officers outside to make sure they could leave to get in their cars and go home,” Lorge said.
Lorge said police officers began patrolling the community for the suspect. The police department also learned that the suspect had a second car.
This vehicle was spotted in the parking lot at the Dollar General store on the other side of the city.
Contact was made with the suspect and he was taken into custody. The weapon and ammunition were also secured by police, Lorge said.
“He was taken into custody without any incident,” Lorge said.
The suspect was placed in emergency detention with Human Services. Lorge said Monday that the suspect was being evaluated at a medical facility.
The police department is not releasing the suspect’s name.
Lorge said as of Monday the police department is not planning to file charges against the suspect.
“We’re viewing it more as a medical crisis, and getting him some help,” Lorge said.
Lorge added that the suspect legally owned the gun and did not violate any laws by carrying the gun.
“He didn’t go into the church with it, he was just outside on the sidewalk,” Lorge said.
The incident is still being investigated.