He hunted them down is what he did’

Sixth person dies from Wisconsin shootings

By Dean Bortz

Staff Writer

Hayward, Wis. One of three hunters wounded in the Nov. 21 Sawyer
County massacre died on Tuesday, Nov. 23, bringing the death toll
to six people in the case.

The suspect, Chai Soua Vang, 36, of St. Paul, Minn., remained in
custody in Sawyer County Jail as of Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Doug Drew, 55, of Rice Lake, died on Tuesday from wounds
suffered during the shooting. The five hunters who died at the
scene were Robert Crotteau, 42; his son Joe Crotteau, 20; Al Laski,
43; Mark Roidt, 28; and Jessica Willers, 27. All are from the Rice
Lake area. Willers is the daughter of Terry Willers, who was
wounded. Also wounded was Lauren Hesebeck.

Vang was apprehended at about 5:20 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21 when
he came out of the woods riding on the back of an ATV driven by a
hunter who did not know that Vang was a suspect in a shooting spree
that initially killed five hunters and wounded three others earlier
that day. Vang allegedly fired upon mostly unarmed hunters who
approached Vang when they found him sitting in a deer stand on
private property.

Investigators were still trying to piece together exactly what
happened that day, according to Mike Bartz, Wisconsin DNR Northern
Region regional warden. Bartz worked at the crime scene with Sawyer
County investigators and other law enforcement officials.

Questions remain as to how Vang came to be in this remote area
of southwestern Sawyer County, just west of the small town of
Exeland. The shootings occurred in the township of Meteor on
private land that is adjacent to county-owned forest land.
According to Bartz, law enforcement officers were not able to find
a vehicle that might have been used by Vang to drive to Sawyer
County from his home in St. Paul.

That leads investigators to believe that Vang was hunting with
friends, and perhaps arrived with those friends, but no hunters who
knew Vang were found in the area.

Ever since the shootings were first reported, it’s been wondered
how Vang could have allegedly shot eight other hunters, six
fatally, without taking fire himself.

“Of the eight people who were in the area, there was only one
firearm among them,” Bartz said. “There is not a clear
understanding of how the people were shot. There were multiple
people there, but most were not armed.”

Bartz said there were about 14 or 15 people at the hunting camp.
Most news reports are indicating that two people initially
approached Vang when they realized that someone who was not part of
their hunting group was occupying one of their tree stands.

Apparently, the hunter who first saw Vang went to the cabin to
ask members of the group if they knew whether one of their hunters
was going to be in that stand. When the answer came back negative,
apparently two unarmed hunters walked to that stand to talk to
Vang.

“As far as we know, they confronted the guy and, for whatever
reason, he started shooting,” Bartz said.

The Associated Press quoted Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim
Zeigle as saying it was not known who shot first. On Tuesday,
according to multiple news reports, investigators said that Vang
was maintaining that the other hunters shot at him first.

Zeigle said the suspect, Vang, was “chasing after them and
killing them,” with a SKS 7.62-caliber semiautomatic, a common
hunting weapon.

“He hunted them down is what he did,” Zeigle said.

It’s not exactly clear just how the group obtained Vang’s
backtag number, but Bartz said one of the first two hunters, after
he was wounded, wrote Vang’s backtag number into the dust on the
fender of an ATV.

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