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Family of accused former deputy 'devastated'

The family of Andrew Steele, a former Dane County Sheriff's Deputy accused in a Fitchburg double homicide, says they are devastated following the shooting of their daughter-in-law and her sister. William and Phyllis Steele, the parents of Andy Steele, released a statement to the media through Steele's attorney Wednesday. "Our family is devastated in the wake of this tragedy," the Steele family said in the statement. "We feel the profound loss of all the loved ones involved. We ask that the media respect the privacy of the individuals close to these events in this time of grief." Steele is accused of killing his wife Ashlee Steele and her sister-in-law Kacee Tollefsbol in a domestic incident in their Fitchburg home on Friday. Steele is being held at the Rock County Jail awaiting a court appearance, which the Dane County District Attorney's office says will happen Friday at 12:30 p.m.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:47:31 GMT

Woman wakes to man touching her; Police release sketch

Police have released a sketch of a man who woke a 21-year-old Madison woman by touching her outside her underwear. The woman told police she was in the bedroom of her apartment in the 500 block of West Mifflin Street in the early morning hours of Aug. 17 when the incident occurred. Police said there had been a party at her home and it’s not clear if the back door was locked before her roommates went to bed. The man is described as white, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds with dark spiked hair and facial stubble. He was wearing a dark gray T-shirt and longer green or dark colored athletic shorts. Crime map

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:33:35 GMT

Jail guard accused of spraying mace on pizza

A prison guard in Franklin County, Missouri is accused of intentionally spraying mace on a pizza, then giving it to an inmate. That inmate, Ricky Walton, reportedly shared the pizza with three other inmates, and all four got sick. Meanwhile, according to Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke, the guard admitted to using his pepper spray in the building, but the rest of his story is entirely different. Toelke explains, "He said when he test-fired the canister in a janitor's closet sink, he accidentally got some of the spray on the pizza that he was eating." Then, this deputy says he let Walton into that closet to get a roll of toilet paper. He says Walton saw the pizza and snatched it. But Walton's sister, Katelyn, finds it farfetched that her brother could somehow sneak the pizza past the guards. She explains, "Everybody knows you don't walk through those halls unless there's a cop right there beside you. And he's handcuffed when he's taken out." What isn't up for debate is that these inmates ingested pepper spray with their pizza. Toelke says, "There were a couple of them that had stomach issues, stomach pain." "He said his throat was hurting really bad, he was puking a lot, which was causing irritation in his stomach," adds Katelyn Walton. A disciplinary hearing for this deputy is scheduled for later this week. If he is found guilty of violating policy, this pepper sprayed pizza could cost him his job. In the meantime, the deputy is suspended with pay, and the Walton family is eager for justice. "It's not right," says Katelyn Walton, "We're all human. We don't need to be treated like that. You wouldn't feed a dog pepper spray, why would you feed a human?"

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:38:45 GMT

Man dies pulling tractor from mud

Authorities say a 19-year-old man trying to free a tractor stuck in mud in southwestern Wisconsin was killed when he was hit in the head by a tow strap. The Monroe County Sheriff's Department says authorities found the man dead about 7:50 p.m. Friday. Authorities identify the victim as Aaron Brockman of New Lisbon. The La Crosse Tribune reports the death is under investigation.

Published: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:48:44 GMT

Missing boy found in Fox River has died

A missing 6-year-old boy found in the Fox River in Neenah has died. Police say Elijah Vanderhoof was in Riverside Park with his mother, older sister and cousins Tuesday afternoon when he went missing about 4:15 p.m. Neenah police responded and began a search. The boy was found in the river about 5:30 p.m. and was taken to Theda Clark Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:37:54 GMT

Governor's race remains dead heat

The latest Marquette University Law School poll shows Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke remain in a dead heat. The latest results released Wednesday show little movement in the race with 10 weeks until Election Day. Polls in May and July also showed the race to be essentially tied. The latest poll shows Walker with 47.5 percent support among registered voters, compared with 44 percent for Burke. That is within the poll's 3.5 percentage point margin of error. Among likely voters, Burke led Walker 48.6 percent to 46.5 percent for Walker. That is also within the 4.1 percentage point margin of error among the smaller population of likely voters. The poll was done between Aug. 21 and Sunday. There were 815 registered voters and 609 likely voters quizzed.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:40:46 GMT

Beltline lane blocked after issue with wet cement

A lane of the Beltline was closed Wednesday morning after numerous vehicles drove through cement poured overnight on the Yahara River Bridge. Traffic officials told traffic reporter Katie Austin holes developed in the far right lane of the westbound Beltline on the Yahara River Bridge during the morning commute, making it too dangerous to drive on. Officials said the lane of wet cement was blocked, but the cement extended about 4 inches into the traffic lane, causing a hazard. The right lane was closed from the Monona Drive exit and over most of the bridge.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:12:32 GMT

City budget commits funds to create affordable housing

Madison’s 2015 Executive Capital Budget will have funds committed to addressing the issue of not having affordable housing in the city. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are served by the shelter system in Madison annually, according to a release from city officials. Lack of affordable housing has been made worse by low vacancies in the rental market, new landlord-tenant laws and a tightened lending market. “Housing is essential to creating a safe community,” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said. The primary goal for the Affordable Housing Strategy is to support the development of approximately 750 additional units of affordable rental housing by committing over $20 million over the next five years to a new Affordable Housing Fund, officials said. One-third of the units created with the new fund will be permanent supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, according to the release. The other two-thirds of the units will be affordable for a variety of income levels. The proposed 2015 budget commits $2 million to the creation of 60 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless single adults on Rethke Avenue, according to a release. The project has been awarded $5.4 million in low-income Housing Tax Credits from WHEDA. The city of Madison will pay $1.05 million and Dane County will pay $950,000 to fund the permanent supportive housing project, officials said. The proposed budget also includes a $4.25 million investment to create an Affordable Housing Fund to support the development of a range of affordable housing, according to the release. The fund will support a second phase of permanent supportive housing for 40-50 homeless families. The fund will also be used to leverage low-income housing tax credits to create 75-100 units of rental households. “This is more than just housing. It’s a premise that housing has to come first and then has to be complemented with other services, which give us the kind of social cohesion the kind of neighborhoods and the kinds of opportunities that we want so badly for every Madisonian,” Soglin said. The Affordable Housing Fund will be financed by taking advantage of tax incremental financing, committing debt to support the fund, and removing the existing Affordable Housing Trust Fund and directing repayments of the existing trust fund loans to the new more flexible Affordable Housing Fund.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 21:03:19 GMT

Forbes: Madison among top cities for young professionals

Madison has been named one of the top cities for young professionals by Forbes. Forbes analyzed the 100 largest cities and their suburbs and ranked them on seven factors. The rankings looked at unemployment rates, job growth projections, the number of small businesses per capita, median salaries, cost-of-living indexes, and census data. The information focused mostly on professionals aged 24-34 who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. The top five are Des Moines, Iowa; Raleigh, North Carolina; Omaha, Nebraska; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Madison. According to the information Forbes released, the median salary for young professionals is $51,500. The unemployment rate is 4 percent. About 42 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the average yearly job growth is projected at 2.3 percent. Cities rounding out the top 10 are Boise City, Idaho; Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:02:34 GMT

Former deputy accused in double homicide booked into jail

The former Dane County deputy accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law has been booked into the Dane County Jail, but is being housed in the Rock County Jail, officials said. Andy Steele, 39, was booked into the jail Tuesday, according to a news alert. Lt. Todd Stetzer with the Fitchburg Police Department said Steele is being housed in Rock County because he used to work for the Dane County Sheriff's Office, and there was a necessity to separate him from both his former co-workers and any inmates he may have had contact with. Fitchburg police are recommending Steele be charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his wife, Ashlee Steele, and his sister-in-law, Kacee Tollefsbol. Police filed a probable cause affidavit with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office late Monday. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Steele had been located at a Milwaukee-area medical facility earlier in the week. Police said Steele was treated at a hospital for injuries consistent with a suicide attempt. Stetzer said they are continually forwarding reports to the Dane County District Attorney's Office. Ozanne said he believes his office is handling the case. Family members said they've been told Steele is due to make his first court appearance Friday via closed circuit TV. Steele recently retired from the Dane County Sheriff's Office after being diagnosed with ALS. He has been seen on TV taking part in the ice bucket challenge to raise money for the cause.

Published: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 23:59:53 GMT

Police: 5 kids on board speeding SUV, 2 unrestrained

Five children under the age of 4 where on board a SUV caught going 70 mph on Cottage Grove Road Tuesday night, according to a report from Madison police. Police said the driver, Sholonda T. Jones, 22, told officers she needed to break the 35 mph speed limit because the engine was smoking and she needed to get coolant quickly before the SUV blew up. An officer opened the hood and found no problems. The officer said there were three children in the backseat and two more in the cargo area that also contained a bottle of transmission fluid, a shard of glass and a bottle of prescription drugs. Jones was arrested on suspicion of second-degree reckless endangerment, felony bail jumping and operating while revoked. The children were put in the custody of a trusted adult. Crime map

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:13:02 GMT

Kenosha-area officials call for casino approval

Leaders from southeastern Wisconsin and Democratic state lawmakers say Gov. Scott Walker should immediately approve the Menominee tribe's proposed casino in Kenosha because it would put people back to work. They came together Wednesday to put pressure on Walker to approve the casino. The Bureau of Indian Affairs gave its OK for the casino a year ago but Walker has until Feb. 19 to sign off on it. Walker said in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday that he's moving cautiously because he's concerned about the effect on the state budget. The Forest County Potawatomi has refused to make its annual casino revenue payment to the state as Walker negotiates with it. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he thinks Walker is moving as quickly as he can.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:42:48 GMT

Poll: Democrat Happ leads Republican Schimel

A new poll shows Democrat Susan Happ leads Republican Brad Schimel in the race for attorney general, but nearly one-in-four voters are undecided. The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows Happ with 40 percent support among registered voters, while Schimel has 33 percent. Twenty-four percent of respondents were undecided or didn't know who they would vote for. The poll of 815 registered voters was done between Aug. 21 and Sunday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Among likely voters, Happ led Schimel 42 percent to 32 percent with a 4.1 percentage point margin of error. Happ is the Jefferson County district attorney who won a three-way primary on Aug. 12. Schimel is Waukesha County district attorney and faced no primary challenger.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:15:10 GMT

Poll shows strong support for Kenosha casino

A poll shows strong support for a new tribal casino in Kenosha. The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows 49 percent support the casino while 35 percent oppose it. The Menominee Tribe wants to build an $810 million casino and Hard Rock Cafe complex in Kenosha. The project is running into opposition from the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, which has a casino in Milwaukee. Gov. Scott Walker has not yet decided whether to approve the casino. The poll shows the strongest support for the casino is in the Milwaukee media market, where 60 percent favor it and 25 percent are against it. The poll of 815 registered voters was done between Aug. 21 and Sunday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:26:41 GMT

Park officials allow Apostle Islands fire to burn

National Park Service rangers have discovered a fire on one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior that they say has been burning for weeks. The service said Tuesday it's allowing the fire on York Island to keep burning. It says a lightning strike likely ignited the fire during a late July storm. Visitors notified Apostle Islands National Lakeshore park staff of the fire Thursday. Officials say it wasn't discovered sooner because flames or smoke weren't visible from the lake. Park rangers tracked the smell of smoke to an area that's less than one-tenth of an acre. Officials say rain and humidity have kept it from spreading. They say they'll let it burn out as long as the damp conditions continue. The island has three campsites and remains open to the public.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:09:26 GMT

Fire destroys garage, Harley Davidson motorcycle

A Tuesday morning fire in the town of Beloit destroyed a garage and its contents, including a Harley Davidson motorcycle, according to a release. The town of Beloit and town of Turtle fire departments were dispatched to 2312 S. Dewey Ave. around 10:10 a.m. for reports of a garage fire, officials said. When crews arrived they found a detached, two-and-a-half-story garage fully engulfed in flames with a house 6 feet away, according to the release. Firefighters were able to keep the fire away from the house, which had been evacuated. Crews were able to get the fire under control in 20 minutes, officials said. The garage, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and all other contents were destroyed in the fire, according to the release. The fire caused an estimated $56,000 in damage to the building and the contents. No injuries were reported, officials said. The cause of the fire is being listed as undetermined, and investigators cannot rule out an electrical issue as the cause.

Published: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:38:25 GMT

Police: Green Bay gang bust leads to 9 arrests

Green Bay police say a nine-month investigation into a street gang has led to the arrests of nine people. Police said Tuesday the recent arrests have broken up a gang called the Bay City Latin Kings. They say a 26-year-old Green Bay man who was arrested last week is the suspected gang leader. A court commissioner found probable cause that the man and two others committed various drug crimes. They haven't been formally charged. Police said investigators confiscated narcotics including methamphetamines, oxycodone and marijuana. They say the alleged leader drove to southeastern Wisconsin to buy drugs and stolen guns for distribution. Green Bay Police Capt. Todd Thomas said the gang holds weekly meetings and is very structured. Police said more arrests are expected.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:32:04 GMT

Sheboygan Walmart shooter loses appeal

A Sheboygan man convicted of fatally shooting a man outside of a Walmart store has lost his appeal. The 2nd District Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the convictions against Kou Yang and also rejected his argument that the $36,000 in restitution to cover funeral costs was excessive. The appeals court said a new trial is not warranted in the case. Yang was convicted in 2012 of felony counts of first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree reckless injury in the shooting that killed Pheng Lee and severely injured Chenglung Moua. The restitution was to cover costs for a traditional Hmong funeral for Lee that lasted more than three days and included food and drink for all 500 guests. The appeals court says the restitution ordered by the lower court was reasonable.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:38:21 GMT

Man allegedly follows woman from bar, sexually assaults her

A Madison man has been charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman last week. Police said Marcus T. Boone, 27, was identified because of a good description provided by the victim which was used to search surveillance video from downtown cameras. A 21-year-old woman told police the assault occurred early Wednesday morning in a parking lot on Fahrenbrook Court while she was walking home from an evening with friends in the State Street area. A criminal complaint said Boone followed the woman home from the State Street area, and tried to talk to her a couple times during the walk. Boone threatened to shoot the woman during the incident, but she told police she did not see a gun, according to the complaint. Boone told police he had been with the woman all night in the downtown area and then walked her home, but police pointed out surveillance images and information from a cab company and a friend he was with that night conflicted with his story, according to the complaint. Boone’s bond was set at $10,000 cash. If convicted, he faces up to 120 years in prison. He will be back in court Sept. 2.

Published: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:35:06 GMT

Dane Co. NAACP plans summit addressing ?militaristic tactics?

Following the police response to Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, MO, Dane County NAACP members voted Tuesday night to spend the next few months planning a countywide law enforcement summit looking at what the civil rights organization feels are local authorities using militaristic tactics. “We are talking about the police.  We are talking the sheriff.  We are talking about the UW police. All of those groups would be the invitees to this,” NAACP Dane Co. Pres. Gwen Jones said. In speaking about his criticism of the Pentagon's 1033 program, which gives local police department’s equipment like former military vehicles called MRAP’s for free, Dane Co. NAACP Vice-chair Nino Amato referenced a grenade launcher currently locked up inside the Waunakee Police Department.    "I wasn't even aware when I became chief in 2000 that we possessed the item," Waunakee Police Chief Kevin Plendl says.  “In my opinion and experience there's no purpose for a weapon like this in a municipal law enforcement agency.” Plendl says he was shocked when a mid-2000s audit showed in 1998 the Waunakee Police Dept. had received the gun-like military shooter typically used to help soldiers better launch chemical weapons, like tear gas, under the 1033 program.  When the feds would not take the launcher back, he had his staff disarm and lock the launcher in a safe where it still remained. “Basically it’s taking the items, keeping it in a safe in our armed room so nobody can have access to it,” Plendl says.  The NAACP’s concerns reach far beyond grenade launchers and MRAPS. At the meeting, Amato referenced the $28 million in total military equipment that's travelled across Wisconsin under the 1033 program. The NAACP will spend the next few months planning the summit, but still has not decided as a body if and when they will push forward to individually meet with Madison Police Chief Michael Koval.

Published: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:08:25 GMT