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Undercover Deputy Stops Active Shooter After Being Shot Twice By Killer

Caledonia, WI – An undercover Racine County sheriff’s deputy who was shot twice in an ambush attack on Tuesday morning is being hailed as a hero for stopping a gunman the sheriff believes was intending to murder even more people.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said the incident began at a Pilot Travel Center at approximately 7:30 a.m. on July 13, WLS reported.

A 22-year-old man was fueling up his vehicle when a 32-year-old gunman suddenly walked up and “viciously executed” him, Sheriff Schmaling told the Racine County Board later that evening, according to The Journal Times.

Investigators said the victim, who may have been chosen at random, was shot in the head, WLS reported.

“I watched that video,” the sheriff said. “And I can tell you that in my 27 years of service, I had never seen — I spent a decade in investigations, I’ve seen some very horrific things — folks, I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life.”

He said the suspect “lied in wait” for the “right opportunity” to strike, The Journal Times reported.

“When [the victim] was done pumping gas, [the gunman] quietly waked up to him and shot him dead,” Sheriff Schmaling told the board.

He rummaged through the dead victim’s pockets and took his keys, but ended up getting out of the victim’s vehicle a moment later as another random driver pulled into the gas station, The Journal Times reported.

He then opened fire on the motorist, who quickly sped off, according to the sheriff.

“When he realized there was no other victim that he could attack, he got back into his vehicle and headed eastbound on Highway K, and went into the Mobil station,” Sheriff Schmaling recounted.

“Unbeknownst to the suspect, there was an undercover investigator with 21 years of experience with the Racine’s Sheriff’s Office and was just beginning his shift and was putting gas into his unmarked squad car,” the sheriff said, according to WLS. “The suspect quickly approached the investigator with a gun drawn and began to shoot at him at a close distance.”

He said the veteran deputy immediately returned fire, killing the suspect nearly instantly, WLS reported.

The undercover deputy was shot twice and fell to the pavement during the terrifying encounter, which lasted mere seconds.

“It should be noted, ladies and gentlemen, this is 7:30 in the morning at this Mobil station. It was bustling with activity. People getting their gas. People getting their morning cup of coffee,” Sheriff Schmaling told the board, according to WLS. “There is no doubt in my mind the quick, heroic actions of our investigator saved lives today.”

The wounded deputy was rushed to a hospital in Racine, WLS reported.

Sheriff Schmaling said he went and picked up the veteran deputy’s wife and child just before 8 a.m. on Tuesday and took them to the hospital so they could be with him, according to The Journal Times.

He said that despite his own wounds, the deputy’s primary concern was the safety of others.

“He was thinking to himself ‘As I’m firing, are my rounds going to hit somebody innocent?’” the sheriff told the county board. “And that’s what he asked me to hospital, while he lied there with bullet holes in his own body, he said ‘Sheriff, did I hit anybody innocent?’”

“That’s what he asked. Nothing else. That’s what he asked,” he reiterated.

The motive for the attacks is unknown.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident, The Journal Times reported.

Sheriff Schmaling and Caledonia Police Chief Christopher Botsch said they believe there would likely have been many more casualties if the undercover deputy hadn’t stopped the crazed gunman, WLS reported.

“This incident was kept from being even more tragic by heroic actions of the officer,” Chief Botsch said.

Sheriff Schmaling told the county board that he is glad the gunman encountered the deputy instead of another civilian that morning, The Journal Times reported.

“I am glad that it was him, and not a random citizen, because he was armed and he was trained. He knew what to do when somebody came at him,” he said. “Otherwise, this maniac would’ve gone on another rampage…a mass shooting. But our investigator was able to stop that in its tracks.”

The undercover deputy risked everything to protect his community, The Journal Times reported.

“Yes, he suffered [injuries]. Yes, he put his life on the line. But that is what we do. I don’t want you to lose sight of that,” Sheriff Schmaling implored while addressing the board. “Those are the county employees that you have here. These are the budgets that you pass, the equipment that we need, and the training that we deserve…As you prepare your budget, please look at these situations. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the training comes into play. This is where the equipment comes in handy.”

The sheriff told the county politicians that local law enforcement needs their support, The Journal Times reported.

“I know there are some people in this room that don’t support law enforcement. I know there are some people that vocally said that there should be citizens making traffic stops,” he continued. “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s insane. Look at what happened today. You want a citizen making a traffic stop of this young man [who] just executed a 22-year-old for no reason?”

“That’s insane and idiotic,” Sheriff Schmaling said. “We have a trained professional law enforcement arena here. We can do this job. We have demonstrated this job. But we need your support. Everyone in this room, we need your support.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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