Off-Duty Wis. Deputy Sheriff Kills 6

The Associated Press
Monday, October 8, 2007; 2:11 AM

CRANDON, Wis. -- The residents Tyler Peterson was hired to protect and serve can't understand how the 20-year-old who shot six of their young people and critically injured another could have passed a background check to become a sheriff's deputy.

Peterson was shot to death after opening fire early Sunday on a group of teenagers who had gathered for pizza and movies on their high school's homecoming weekend. Peterson was off-duty from his full-time job as a Forest County deputy sheriff; he also was a part-time Crandon police officer.

David Franz, 36, who lives with his wife two houses from the duplex where the shooting occurred, said it was hard to accept that someone in law enforcement was the gunman.

"The first statement we said to each other was, how did he get through the system?" Franz said. "How do they know somebody's background, especially that young? It is disturbing, to say the least."

Sheriff Keith Van Cleve said he would meet with state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Monday morning to discuss the case.

Crandon Police Chief John Dennee said it would be handled by the state Department of Criminal Investigation because the suspect was a deputy and officer.

Peterson was killed Sunday afternoon, eight miles north of Crandon in the rural town of Argonne, Dennee said.

Crandon mayor Gary Bradley said Sunday that a sniper killed the suspect, but Van Cleve would not confirm that officers shot him.

The gunman's motive was unclear, but the mother of a 14-year-old victim, Lindsey Stahl, said the suspect may have been a jealous boyfriend.

"I'm waiting for somebody to wake me up right now. This is a bad, bad dream," said Jenny Stahl. "All I heard it was a jealous boyfriend and he went berserk. He took them all out."

Dennee declined comment on whether Peterson had a romantic relationship with any of the victims.

The white, two-story duplex was about a block from downtown Crandon, a town of about 2,000 located 225 miles north of Milwaukee in an area known for logging and outdoor activities. The victims had gathered for what Dennee described as "a pizza and movie party."

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