UPDATED 5 p.m. - Law enforcement officers from four different counties were led on an extended search and chase Tuesday of a man wanted in connection with a stabbing in Madison Monday, who collected a number of additional charges along the way, as well as abducting a man and stealing guns from his uncle.
James M. Kruger, 36, Fall River, is sitting in an Iowa County Jail cell Tuesday afternoon after he wrecked a truck he stole from rural Hollandale, forced into a rollover accident in an attempt by authorities to stop the fleeing man. Kruger, who coincidentally was out on a signature bond after a Sept. 4 charge of felony eluding an officer with a vehicle in Dane County, had been sought by authorities in that county for an incident that took place at 1:36 a.m. Monday morning, where he was at a residence in Madison, and when asked to leave, stabbed a 48-year old man while he was leaving. The man was still in the hospital Monday night, and authorities wanted to question him on the possible attempted murder.
As Tuesday morning opened, Kruger's first contact with county law enforcement took place in Platteville, where he was spotted in the early morning hours driving the wrong way up a one-way street. While attempting to stop him, Kruger fled, and a chase was terminated by Platteville Police due to safety concerns.
Then, at approximately 7 a.m., Kruger was at the home of his uncle, who lives in Cassville. During his visit, Kruger robbed his uncle, stealing three guns. Soon after the relative attempted to report the theft to law enforcement, Kruger began shooting through a window as he was leaving, which alerted a number of residents in Cassville to a problem.
With the reports of the theft and shots fired, over at the Grant County Sheriff's Office, the department called several deputies to duty to help out with the search with Kruger. "We try and do the best we can," Chief Deputy Jack Johnson said of calling in extra manpower to help with the manhunt, as well as to keep at least one officer available to handle the other calls that would come in, which included an incident in Blue River, an investigation call in Bloomington, to name a couple of calls that came during that time.
As word got out about the manhunt, Johnson said a number of residents began to call to find out what was happening. "Call volume was enormous."
The sheriff's department called in the Wisconsin State Patrol Air Unit to assist in the search, with planes flying overhead at 11 a.m.
At 11:20, a report came in that Kruger's black Honda Civic, which authorities had been looking for, was abandoned on Dream Lane outside of Cassville. At that time, a woman had told authorities that approximately two hours before her and her husband had encountered Kruger, who held them at gunpoint before eventually taking her husband as a hostage, and stealing the couple's truck, which had been towing a cattle trailer with a cow inside.
The cattle trailer was dumped on a side road outside of Fennimore. Authorities eventually found the trailer, with the cow suffering the affects of exposure to the heat while being enclosed in the trailer. Deputies gave the animal water, who is now doing fine according to the last report.
When the report of the abduction came in, and the report that Kruger was heading towards Bloomington, River Ridge Middle School went into preventative lockdown to protect the students.
Minutes after the woman reported the abduction, her husband was able to report that he got away from Kruger in Dodgeville, who drove on with the stolen truck. Deputies, already rushing towards Bloomington, then shifted their direction to Iowa County, to help assist the pursuit, as well as gather evidence, and the man who was abducted. The victim was brought by deputies back home from Dodgeville.
Kruger was tracked heading back to Madison, first taking many county roads, then eventually onto USH 151. Several schools along his path were placed in lockdown. Kruger dumped the vehicle he stole in rural Cassville, and grabbed another vehicle on CTH K in Iowa County. As the chase continued, authorities in Dane County, near the Town of Blue Mounds, deployed stop sticks to force Kruger to end the chase. The vehicle rolled at 12:45 p.m., with the truck becoming fully engulfed in flames and the incident temporarily closed down traffic on USH 151 in both directions. Kruger escaped the truck without serious injury, and was taken to the Iowa County Jail where he is being interviewed by law enforcement.
In Grant County alone, officers from the sheriff's department, Wisconsin State Patrol, and Platteville, Cassville,Fennimore, and Lancaster police departments participated in the search. Chief Deputy Johnson said that the incident showed real cooperation amongst the law enforcement agencies. "Everybody worked together, they did an excellent job," he said. He noted that the departments helped one another. For example, when deputies began heading towards Dodgeville, a State Trooper volunteered to handle an incident in Bloomington, while Muscoda and Boscobel police answered the call in Blue River.
As far as Kruger, he is looking at charges of Armed Robbery, Aggravated Battery, Kidnapping, and Vehicle Theft on the incidents in Grant County, in addition to the charges in Dane County.
As for why he was out of jail in the first place on a felony charge, despite his earlier record, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said that Kruger should have never been out, putting blame on the assistant district attorney. Ozanne said that the assistant district attorney had thought Kruger would be held on a probation violation, but that Kruger's probation ended in August.
UPDATE 12:58 p.m. - Early reports are Kruger has been apprehended in Dane County.
UPDATE 11:32 a.m. - James Kruger is now believed in Iowa County, after his hostage reported he was alone in the stolen truck. Officers from Grant County are heading to Iowa County as part of the continued investigation.
UPDATE - 11:23 a.m. - James Kruger, the man who is wanted on attempted murder charges, has ditched his black Honda outside of Cassville, and has taken a hostage and stolen a truck in his attempt to allude authorities.
Kruger ditched his car along Dream Lane, outside of Cassville, and is suspected to be heading towards Bloomington. The 2004 dark green GMC pickup truck has a fifth wheel horse trailer with "Riedl Farms" emblazoned on the side of the truck.
The abduction took place at approximately 9:30 a.m. River Ridge Middle School went into preventative lockdown when alerted to the situation.
ORIGINAL POST 10:13 a.m. - The Grant County Law Enforcement Officers are searching for a James M. Kruger, 36. He is wanted on attempted homicide charges from Madison Police Department, as well as charges from Platteville Police Department and the Grant County Sheriff’s office.
He is wanted in connection with a stabbing that took place in Madison early Monday morning. Kruger had been at a home when he was asked to leave, and as he was leaving at 1:35 a.m. stabbed one of the occupants. As of Monday night, that 48-year old man was still in the hospital.
Kruger is considered armed and dangerous. If seen the public should not attempt to make contact and should seek safety and contact the Law Enforcement by dialing 911. Kruger was last sighted south of Cassville, WI at approximately 715 am.
It was not reported whether or not the search for Kruger has anything to do with reports of shots heard in Cassville early this morning.
He is suspected to be driving a 2011 Black Honda Civic two door with white decals. The Wisconsin license plates on the car are 546-UWN.
Kruger is from Fall River, according to the most recent court filings. He has charges currently in Dane County Court of felony eluding an officer with a vehicle.