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Oconto Falls officer released from hospital after shooting

Police at the scene of an incident in Oconto Falls. Aug. 6, 2021.
Police at the scene of an incident in Oconto Falls. Aug. 6, 2021.(WBAY)
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 12:10 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 10:30 AM CDT
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OCONTO FALLS, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE 8/9:

A police officer who was shot in Oconto Falls Friday has been released from the hospital.

Oconto Falls Police Chief Brad Olsen says the officer is at home and recovering. The officer’s name was not released.

Action 2 News will be following up on this story Monday and will be working to provide new details when we get them.

INITIAL REPORT

The Oconto County sheriff says “God was on our side” Friday morning when an Oconto Falls police officer was shot but survived. The officer is reported to be stable after being airlifted to a Green Bay hospital. The officer’s name hasn’t been made public.

A 29-year-old Oconto Falls woman is in custody. The sheriff expects her to be charged with attempted first-degree homicide.

Sheriff Todd Skarban said the officer was responding to several hang-up calls to 911 from the 100-block of W. Elm St. Information was gathered that there may be a hostage situation, and multiple agencies responded and found the officer with a gunshot wound.

Sounding emotional at times during a news conference Friday afternoon, Skarban said there was a struggle between the officer and the suspect. “When you’re in the fight, we win the fight. And that’s what we train to do. You’re going to go home to your family -- that’s the goal -- and thankfully this officer has been reunited with their family and is resting comfortably in the hospital right now.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the officer as we hope for a speedy recovery. God was on our side today,” he said.

Sheriff Skarban said more specifics will come out in the criminal complaint when the suspect is formally charged. Her name should be made public when she makes her court appearance next week.

Skarban and Oconto Falls Police Chief Brad Olsen didn’t know if the suspect had a gun or if the suspect got hold of the officer’s weapon. They were not aware of previous police contacts with her.

Chief Olsen said the officer has been with the police department for about two years.

Skarban said this is the only shooting of a law enforcement officer in Oconto County that he can remember in his lifetime.

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The sheriff expressed his appreciation to the law enforcement agencies and first responders at the scene and to the community for all the support law enforcement officers have received. “The support that we receive from our community is second to none. Across the country you hear about law enforcement agencies being vilified and the like. We don’t experience that in Oconto County. We have a strong, strong relationship with our people.”

Action 2 News viewers told us they saw squad cars racing in that direction. Neighbors say they were told there were reports of an active shooter. People living in the area received emergency alerts on their phones instructing them to stay indoors.

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Tenants of apartments at the corner of Elm Ave. and Sherman St. were evacuated on a school bus and sheltered at the town hall. We saw a school bus pull up around 4 P.M. and unload a number of people, so we believe the evacuees were brought back.

Neighbors told us they were impressed by the police keeping everyone safe but aren’t used to having them so close to their front yard.

“My wife was making breakfast and I walked through the living room and I go, ‘Michelle, there’s guys with guns outside,’ and they’re running across the field in full body armor -- helmets, gear, everything. It was crazy,” Austin Kopczynski said. He said he and his wife put their three children, ranging from 2 to 8 years old, in a back room and put the TV on, then he saw a neighbor outside.

“I came outside at 11 and my neighbor, Austin, came over when I was letting the dog out, and he said, ‘Get back in the house.’ Something about an active shooter. Stay away from the windows,” Lionel Gehm said.

Some neighbors told us they didn’t find the incident surprising, just having so many armed police officers so close their front yard.

“It’s not shocking. It happens every now and again. It happened a couple years ago. I know the cops are over there often, but it happens over there,” Kopcyznski said.

Congressman Mike Gallagher’s office said he’s been monitoring news of the shooting. The congressman released a written statement, “Northeast Wisconsin is blessed to have the best law enforcement officers in the country. This serves as a reminder of the dangerous job they do every day to keep us safe. I’m grateful that this officer is in stable condition, and will be keeping her family and colleagues in my prayers.”

Agencies involved in the shooting response included the Oconto Falls, Oconto, Gillett and Green Bay police departments; Oconto, Shawano, Marinette and Brown County sheriff’s offices; Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations; Eagle III rescue helicopter; Wisconsin State Patrol; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Oconto Falls Area Ambulance; and Oconto Falls Fire Department.

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