(WFRV) – Authorities in Vilas County were tasked with a dangerous situation over the weekend after a 15-year-old boy fled into a wooded area and allegedly shot at a law enforcement drone.
According to the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office, on Saturday, September 30, shortly after 2:15 p.m., deputies were advised of a vehicle pursuit northbound on State Highway 17 in Oneida County. The pursuit entered Vilas County, and a Oneida County Sheriff’s deputy conducted a PIT maneuver on the vehicle.
After the vehicle stopped, a foot pursuit was initiated, and the suspect reportedly fled into a large wooded area, unable to be located by pursuing deputies.
Members from numerous agencies were involved in the search. Initially, law enforcement was told that the suspect was armed, but deputies from the pursuit said they did not see the suspect with a weapon, nor was a weapon located within the stolen vehicle he was operating.
Due to the severity of the situation, SWAT teams from Oneida County and Vilas County responded to the scene. After six hours of searching woods, the search was put on hold to debrief and change personnel.
Incident command was broken down at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, where law enforcement utilized a plan to keep deputies on a perimeter. Many deputies patrolled the road near the incident, and several on foot. The Vilas County Sheriff’s Office utilized the RAVE system, a platform used to communicate vital information to residents, who were alerted of the situation.
At 9:48 p.m., a Vilas County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a UTV on State Highway 70. The deputy was on the perimeter search zone when he tried to stop the UTV, and a pursuit was initiated.
The UTV ended up crashing into the shoreline of a lake, but not before smashing into two marked Vilas County Sheriff’s Office squad cars, causing minimal damage.
When deputies started chasing the suspect, they observed a bag full of firearms and ammunition lying next to the UTV. There was also reportedly an empty handgun holster.
Responding units involved with the pursuit established a perimeter, and while searching the wooded area for the suspect, he allegedly shot one round. SWAT teams were again called to the scene alongside a drone unit from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office.
The drone located the suspect at around 10:45 p.m., and the individual allegedly began firing several rounds at the drone. The drone could see that the suspect possessed a long gun and multiple handguns.
While searching, the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office says that adverse weather moved in, and the suspect’s location was lost. A clear perimeter was set on three sides, protecting officers, homeowners, and citizens, giving the suspect the only option to flee deeper into the thick forest.
After seven more hours of searching the area for the suspect, the decision was made to pull back and give searching officers a rest. Replacement officers from different jurisdictions relieved those working and held a three-sided perimeter.
On Sunday, October 1, at 7:00 a.m., a burglary was discovered by a Vilas County Sheriff’s deputy canvassing the search area. It was found that the UTV in the pursuit had come from the address. It was also discovered that multiple firearms and ammunition were stolen from the residence.
Deputies were able to contact the owners of the cabin and establish that the individual had stolen two 9mm pistols and a .233 caliber AR15. These weapons were reportedly unaccounted for. The remaining weapons stolen from the residence were recovered at the UTV crash.
At around 3:00 p.m. on October 1, a cabin owner learned about the incident on Facebook and decided to check on their cabin. Upon arrival at their cabin, they discovered someone had forced entry into it. They immediately notified law enforcement, who responded to the scene.
Deputies found the suspect inside and located a loaded 9mm handgun on him. Another 9mm handgun was located on a coffee table next to his head, and a .223 caliber rifle was found directly under where he was sleeping.
After waking up the suspect, he was taken into custody without further incident.
The suspect, a 15-year-old boy, was taken to the hospital for medical clearance before being transferred to the Vilas County Juvenile Intake. Forest County eventually took custody of the individual.
Vilas County Sheriff Chief Deputy Patrick Schmidt issued the following statement regarding the weekend incident:
The successful outcome of this situation would not have been possible without the tireless effort put forth by law enforcement from around the area, the citizens of Vilas County, or those that simply shared the information to those that don’t have social media. All too often, we hear of situations similar to this that have ended in tragedy. It is truly remarkable how law enforcement and the citizens of Vilas County came together to help bring this situation to an end.Patrick Schmidt, Chief Deputy
No additional details were provided.
Local 5 News will update this when more information is made available.