By Katjusa Cisar
DARLINGTON — A Benton man out on cash bail for a burglary at Benton Bible Church, among other local thefts, was arrested Tuesday for making violent threats against law enforcement and others, according to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office.
Aaron Neil Coley, 19, was jailed pending court on a tentative Class I felony charge of making terroristic threats, as well as felony bail jumping and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. According to Wisconsin statutes, a person is guilty of “terroristic threats” when those threats are made with the intent to cause evacuation of a public place, cause public inconvenience, cause public panic or fear or interrupt or impair any governmental operation.
The investigation began Tuesday with a request to check welfare at 2:49 p.m., according to a release from the sheriff’s office. The female complainant told an on-duty Benton police officer that Coley had made threatening remarks in her presence, including threats that he would take violent action toward law enforcement and others.
Coley threatened to use a firearm but “he never actually had a firearm” while making the threats, said Lafayette County Chief Deputy Troy Loeffelholz. The case remains under investigation. When complete, it will be referred to the district attorney for review and a formal charging decision.
Coley has no criminal record in Wisconsin. He was ticketed 17 times for truancy during a six-month period between 2015 and 2016, according to online court records.
He also has several pending felony and misdemeanor cases in Lafayette County, with co-defendant Blake James Hibner, 20, Montfort, related to a rash of gun thefts from vehicles in the area and a break-in at Benton Bible Church.
The criminal complaints against Coley and Hibner indicate they stole two handguns out of vehicles in December: a .38 long revolver out of a vehicle parked on Gibson Street in Benton and a loaded Taurus model .380 automatic pistol out of a vehicle parked on East Webster Street in Cuba City.
They also reportedly broke into Benton Bible Church during the night of Jan. 13, entering through the roof and breaking a window before taking the church’s offering money, pop machine money and consuming water, pop and candy from the machine. They also allegedly tried to pry into a locker in one of the church’s storage rooms but were unsuccessful.
Coley has his plea and sentencing hearing in those cases June 19.