Eau Claire police investigating death after chase

Police line tape file photo.
Police line tape file photo.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) – What started as an erratic driver call for police in western Wisconsin has turned into a death investigation after officers found a woman’s body in the motorist’s home.

It started around 1:30 a.m. Friday when a Bloomer officer and a Chippewa County sheriff’s deputy tried to pull over a 60-year-old man for erratic driving, according to the Chippewa Herald.

At one point, the driver stopped.

“They didn’t make it out of their cars,” because the officer saw a long gun coming out of the window of the car, said Bloomer Police Chief Jared Zwiefelhofer. The man took off and a deputy later saw a weapon being thrown from the car, Zwiefelhofer said.

Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk said at one point, they used stop sticks to slow the vehicle, but the man made it to his Eau Claire home where he was arrested for endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon and being armed while intoxicated. He was also cited for drunken driving.

During a follow-up investigation, neighbors told police another adult lived in the residence and said they had heard what sounded like a gunshot earlier that evening. Officers then discovered the woman’s body in the house.

Eau Claire police spokesman Kyle Roder told the Leader-Telegram the man is a person of interest in the death. Police have not revealed the relationship of the two.

Linda Sunde, who lives next door, said she awoke when law enforcement officers arrested her neighbor early Friday.

“They kind of repeatedly kept ordering him out of the vehicle, and he wouldn’t get out,” Sunde said. “They had guns drawn and high-powered rifles and lots of cops.”

She remembered hearing what she thought was a gunshot around 11 p.m. Thursday.

“I was watching TV, and I thought it was pretty darn loud,” she said.

But she said she didn’t think much of it at the time and didn’t call police.

“It’s not like you’re going to sit there and go ‘Oh gee, I think one of the neighbors just shot each other,’” she said. “You’re not going to think like that.”

An autopsy is being conducted to identify the cause and manner of the victim’s death.

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