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DA: No charges against officers in Appleton Valley Transit shooting, other details about incident

THURSDAY 6/1/19 4:15 p.m

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) — The Outagamie County District Attorney’s office held a news conference regarding the shooting that took place near the Valley Transit Center, May 15th. 

During the conference, Outagamie County District Attorney and Appleton Police Chief Thomas gave a statement and update the public on the investigation. 

Officer Meghan Cash of the Appleton Police Department says chest camera video will be released from the incident. 

Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis says the police officers who shot the suspect did so because they believed he posed a threat to the emergency response officers on the scene, including Firefighter Lundgaard. 

DA Tempelis says the toxicology report of Ruben Houston is not available at this time, but she says it does not impact the determination of the investigation into the shooting. 

She goes on to say the officers who shot the suspect, Officers Biese and Christensen, made an objective decision and no criminal charges will be placed against them for shooting and killing Houston.

Tempelis says the officers’ use of deadly force were actions of self-defense.

According to Tempelis, Houston boarded the bus in Wausau, but stopped in Milwaukee and “took care of some business.” 

Houston asked the bus driver if he could change and then re-board the bus. When the bus stopped in Fond du Lac, Houston reportedly paced at the bus stop. Passengers reported him as anxious. 

Tempelis says passengers observed Houston “sleeping,” but that it became troubling when they arrived to Appleton. Passengers reportedly tried to wake him, which he does not respond to. 

A passenger then called 9-1-1 because they believe Houston is having a seizure, according to Tempelis. 

The DA says Lundgaard drove the fire truck to the scene of the call. Crews addressed Houston, and observed symptoms of a drug overdose. 

Emergency crews then provided Narcan to Houston to counter Houston’s suspected opioid overdose. 

His first dose of Narcan allowed Houston’s breathing to become more normal. The second dose allowed Houston to wake up and be more alert. Tempelis says Houston told officers he had taken some of his wife’s morphin. 

Tempelis says Narcan’s effects only last for an hour. This resulted in crews being concerned in Houston and the potential for the opioid’s effects to return. 

Lundgaard reportedly had a cot available, which Houston sat on. Officer Biese asked Houston if he could pat him down. Tempelis says Houston swatted at Biese’s hand and said his legs were bothering him, resulting in him wanting to walk around. 

Houston reportedly did not want to go to a hospital because he wanted to go home to Wausau to see his wife and pay his rent, according to Tempelis. 

She goes on to say officers remained concerned for Houston and his health. Biese then contacted his lieutenant for how to respond to Houston refusing medical assistance. 

Tempelis says witnesses described the scene as calm during this time. 

While Biese is on the phone, Officer Christensen responded to the scene and sits with the firefighters and first responders. 

The bus driver and an administrative worker at the bus station were trying to explain to Houston he could not board the bus because of the situation, says Tempelis.

Officers continued to try to convince Houston to go to the hospital.

Houston reportedly emptied some items from his pockets, but continued to refuse a pat down from an officer. 

Officer Christensen reportedly observed Houston kept his right hip against the bus, which appeared suspicious, says Tempelis. 

Tempelis says officers observed Houston begin moving his hand toward his right hip and officers asked him to keep his hands visible. 

Houston removed a small .380 from his hip, says Tempelis. It was reportedly in a small case on his hip which appeared to be a phone case or a multi-tool case. 

Houston reportedly stands back and fired his gun twice, according to Tempelis. Christensen then responded quickly with his firearm. 

Tempelis says the individuals at the scene began to scatter, but Houston’s struck Officer Christensen and Lundgaard. 

Tempelis says Lundgaard received a shot through his upper back, which exited through his chest on the left side. Lundgaard had reportedly been beginning to crouch, was struck, and then rose slightly to run away. 

Christensen received a gunshot wound in the lower part of his body. 

Tempelis says Christensen fired at Houston, and they believe he was struck in the abdomen. 

Christensen notified dispatch Lundgaard had been shot. Officer Biese fell to the ground while trying to get in a better location, but was able to get back up. Tempelis says Biese began firing his gun at Houston at this time.

Tempelis added the library and transit area during this time of day is busy and a number of bystanders, including Brittany Schowalter.

Houston then reportedly runs to where Schowalter was, grabs her around the neck, and begins using her as a human shield. Houston continued to fire his gun during this, says Tempelis. 

Biese was asking Houston to stop shooting and put down his weapon, says Tempelis. Houston did not follow commands, and fired three more rounds. 

In total, Christensen fired 11 shots and Biese, 8. 

Tempelis says another casing was found in a medic bag after it reportedly landed on the cot Lundgaard had prepared for Houston. The casing ended up in the bag after a paramedic wiped the cot off to tend to Lundgaard’s injuries. 

Houston was reportedly waving his arms around “wildly.” 

Christensen reportedly stayed engaged in trying to get Houston to follow commands. At this time, officers tried to get Schowalter out of the area and to safety. 

The DA says an officer responded to Schowalter as soon as they were able, moving her to a more secure area to provide medical aid.

Schowalter reportedly received a shot to the head and the upper part of her leg.

Tempelis says it is likely Schowalter’s injuries could have been from Officers Christensen or Biese, but the lab was unable to prove which weapon the bullets came from. 

With his weapon still drawn, Christensen continued to monitor Houston. Tempelis says Christensen then yelled at Schowalter to get out of the area, but she remained laying on the ground unresponsive. 

Houston was placed under arrest and transported to ThedaClark from his injuries to his arms, fingers, and abdomen.

Tempelis says officers did not intentionally use force against Houston, but instead responded in an act of self-defense for themselves, emergency crews, and others at the scene. 

Chief Todd Thomas thanked the Green Bay Police Department for thoroughly and rapidly conducting the investigation into this incident. The chief also thanked a number of local agencies for their assistance during this, including Outagamie County Sheriff’s Officers.

Chief Thomas also commended Officer Christensen for his courage and valor despite his injury.

Appleton shooting victim released from hospital

THURSDAY 6/6/19 12:30 p.m.

NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) — 30-year-old Brittany Schowalter, the woman injured in the May 15th shooting near the Valley Transit Center in Downtown Appleton, has been released from the hospital.

In a phone call with ThedaCare Public Relations Specialist Cassandra Wallace, she confirmed to Local 5 that Schowalter had been released from ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah but was unable to specify exactly when.

Local 5 will continue to update this story with any updates that may develop.

Injured parties identified in downtown Appleton shooting

FRIDAY 5/17/19 2:03 P.M.

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) — Appleton Police have identified the officers and female victim involved in the downtown Appleton shooting which Wednesday. The suspect has also been identified.

According to officials, two Appleton Police Officers fired at least one round each in the incident.

The female bystander injured during the incident has been identified as Brittany Schowalter, 31. She is currently recovering from her injuries at a local hospital. 

Officer Paul Christensen was also struck by gunfire. He was released from the hospital Thursday.

Appleton Police say the suspect, Ruben Houston, 47, of Wausau, died at the scene.

Sergeant Christopher Biese, a 14-year veteran, and Officer Christensen, a one-year veteran, have been identified as officers firing shots. According to the Appleton Police Department’s policy on Officer Involved Critical Incidents, these officers are currently on Administrative Assignment. 

The Green Bay Police Department is leading the investigation, with the assistance of several other state and local agencies. 

Further information will be withheld until the investigation is concluded. 

Fallen firefighter was a father of three, 14-year AFD veteran

THURSDAY 5/16/19 2:00 p.m.

In a joint press conference, the Appleton Police Department, Appleton Fire Department, and Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna expressed sadness at the loss of a fallen brother.

The Appleton Fire Department says firefighter Mitch Lundgaard died from gunshot injuries.

Firefighter Lundgaard was married and a father of three kids.

Police say, officers responded to assist a 47-year-old man believed to be from the Wausau area that was arriving by bus.

First responders were called to provide care to the man due to a medical emergency on the bus.

According to officials, the man left the bus, walked towards the library, and began shooting when officials were attending to him.

A police officer was shot and taken to the hospital but has since been released.

A female bystander was shot; she is in stable condition at a local hospital.

Firefighter Lundgaard was shot and died of his injuries.

The 47-year-old man was also taken to the hospital but died from his injuries. 

Local 5 readers can watch the news conference in its entirety below. The media release by local authorities can also be read below.

Local 5 will continue to follow this story as it develops.

WisDOT traffic cameras follow procession carrying fallen Appleton Firefighter home

THURSDAY 5/16/19 10:14 a.m.

WATCH: WisDOT traffic cameras are following the procession carrying the fallen Appleton firefighter from Milwaukee back to Appleton.

Cameras will automatically switch along the route. Local 5 will carry this stream through the procession’s arrival at downtown Appleton.

NOTE: All cameras are silent.

The fallen Appleton Firefighter is returning home at 12:30 Thursday afternoon.

A procession carrying the 14-year AFD veteran will leave Milwaukee at 10:30 a.m. and expects to arrive in downtown Appleton at 12:30 p.m.

The route starts from the Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s Office, heads north on I-41, drives through downtown Appleton, and finishes at the Brettschneider-Trettin Nickel Funeral Chapel.

A news conference is set for 2 p.m. and Local 5 will be streaming it live here: https://www.facebook.com/wfrvlocal5/

AFD: Firefighter injured in shooting has died

THURSDAY 5/16/2019 2:23 a.m.

The Appleton Fire Department has reported the firefighter involved in Wednesday night’s shooting on the 100 Block of East Washington Street has died at a local hospital.

The firefighter, who was a 14-year veteran of the Appleton Fire Department, was one of four people shot at the scene of a medical emergency. An Appleton Police Officer was among the four shot and is currently recovering in a local hospital.

Appleton Fire Chief Jeremy Hanson and Mayor Tim Hanna will be making a statement to the media Thursday at the Appleton Police Department. Meanwhile, funeral arrangements for the firefighter — whose name has not been released — are still pending.

Four, including Police Officer and Firefighter, injured in downtown Appleton shooting

WEDNESDAY 5/15/2019 10:00 p.m.

According to Appleton Police, at approximately 5:30 p.m., officers and firefighters responded to the 100 Block of East Washington Street for a medical call.

Police say while treating the person, the incident escalated into shots being fired.

Four people were injured as a result of the incident including an Appleton Police Officer and Firefighter.

All four people were taken to local hospitals for medical attention. 

Police say there is no ongoing threat to the community.

Local 5 will continue to follow this story closely.

Shooting in downtown Appleton

WEDNESDAY 5/15/2019 7:03 p.m.

The Appleton Police Department is currently handling a shooting situation in the downtown area, near the Appleton Library and the Transit Center.

As you can see in the video, Police have blocked off many roadways near the area of the incident.

According to Appleton Police, a police officer and firefighter were injured in the incident.

Stick with Local 5 as we continue to monitor this active situation.