Charges follow shootout
A bomb squad and 48 officers converged on the home of a man who told the FBI, “Hell is about to start.”
One Waupaca County deputy was wounded in the ensuing gunfire on Sept. 8.
James D. Dax, 62, rural New London, was charged Monday with six counts of attempted first-degree homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment, battery to an officer, possession of a firearm by a person subject to court order, making terrorist threats and possession of explosives.
On the morning of Aug. 31, Waupaca County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Nelson met with Dax’s wife, who had left their home because she feared Dax.
Dax’s wife reported that he physically and verbally abused her almost every day.
She also told Nelson that she feared not only for herself, but for any officer who went to their home because Dax had previously fired a gun at an officer.
Dax had been accused of shooting at a deputy in 2012.
When deputies attempted to make contact with Dax, he retreated into his home and refused to speak with them.
Dax was charged with aggravated battery and disorderly conduct. A warrant for Dax’s arrest was issued on Aug. 31.
Officers continued monitoring Dax’s home for a week as the investigation continued.
On Sept. 7, Dax’s wife told Deputy Pat McClone that she had purchased a 9 mm handgun for her protection, but Dax had taken it from her, the complaint says.
She said Dax had also filled soda bottles with gasoline and stuffed paper through the opening. Investigators suspected she was describing Molotov cocktails, a type of homemade incendiary device.
Authorities also learned that Dax had installed motion detectors and a security camera outside the house.
Dax’s wife described him as “extremely paranoid,” saying he did not trust the state or county governments.
“Dax told her if people ever came for him that he could blow the house up,” the complaint says.
In the week prior to his arrest, Dax sent several emails to the FBI.
“Urgent: My wife has either been murdered of kidnapped. She has not come home after doing chores for two mornings now,” Dax said in a Sept. 1 email to the FBI. “Don’t trust local or county cops in 13 counties of NE Wisconsin.”
In a subsequent email Dax said, “Don’t ever underestimate what I can do…. There is enough explosive for my building to take the neighborhood.”
On Sept. 7, Dax wrote, “People will pay dearly for this mess. I have nothing to loose (sic). Hell is about to start.”
Shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, 48 officers from 12 jurisdictions arrived at Dax’s property at E9133 Manske Road in the town of Mukwa. Area residents had been evacuated.
Throughout the day negotiators attempted to persuade Dax to leave the residence peacefully, but were unsuccessful.
The Brown County bomb squad deployed its robot at 11:40 a.m., but the device was hampered by the amount of materials blocking much of the home.
At 3 p.m., the doors were breached and officers deployed pepper spray and tear gas inside the house.
After SWAT teams cleared the garage and the main level of the home, they discovered that Dax had climbed up into the attic.
The attic consisted of a landing for the ladder and a small room. Dax had pulled the ladder after him.
Three SWAT officers went up their own ladder and a flash-bang prior to entering the attic.
Because the flash-bang stirred up dust and debris, there was “zero visibility” in the attic, the complaint says.
Dax had barricaded himself behind the door to the small room.
According to the criminal complaint, after all three SWAT officers were in the attic, Dax opened fire on them.
The officers reported that Dax began yelling, “I give up, I give up,” but then he started shooting at them again.
One of the officers was hit by a bullet believed to have come from Dax’s gun and he suffered damage to his eardrums.
The officers returned fire in the direction of the sound of the shooting but did not hit Dax because he was hiding behind boxes.
Dax was subsequently arrested and taken to Waupaca County jail, where he remains in custody on a $5 million cash bond.
Three officers who were on the south end of the property reported they heard bullets flying over their heads during the gun battle.
The officer who was wounded was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel said the wounded officer was released from the hospital on Friday night.
“He is doing OK,” Hardel said, noting he did not know when the officer would return to work.
Hardel told the Waupaca County Post that he cannot release the officer’s name because the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the officer-involved shooting incident.
Officers found bottles of gasoline and a 9 mm handgun when they conducted a search of Dax’s residence.