Wisconsin gunman's list included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's name

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's name appeared on a list of a gunman who's suspected in the killing of a retired judge in Wisconsin, her office said Saturday.

Zack Pohl, Whitmer's deputy chief of staff, said in a statement that law enforcement officials notified Whitmer of the list on Friday. That was the same day that retired Juneau County Judge John Roemer was shot and killed in "a targeted attack in his home" in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"While the news reports are deeply troubling, we will not comment further on an ongoing criminal investigation," Pohl said. "Gov. Whitmer has demonstrated repeatedly that she is tough, and she will not be bullied or intimidated from doing her job and working across the aisle to get things done for the people of Michigan."

The incident in Wisconsin is under investigation, according to a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

At about 6:30 a.m. Friday, the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an armed person and two shots fired in home in New Lisbon, according to the department. The caller had left the home and contacted law enforcement.

The Juneau County Special Tactics and Response Team eventually entered the home and located the homeowner, who wasn't named in the department's press release, deceased. A 56-year-old male was also found in the basement of the home with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He was transported to a medical facility.

"This incident appears to be a targeted act," the Wisconsin Department of Justice said. "There is no immediate danger to the public."

Officials said law enforcement had found Roemer "zip-tied to a chair and fatally shot," according to a Wisconsin TV station.

"A law enforcement official said a 'hit list' was found in the suspect's vehicle," WISN 12-Milwaukee reported.

The list included Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, according to the TV station's reporting.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has faced a string of threats during her time in Michigan's top office. In October 2020, federal agents revealed what they described as a plot to overthrow the government and kidnap and harm her.

In April, jurors acquitted two men accused of being involved in the plot and deadlocked on charges against the two alleged ringleaders. Daniel Harris, 24, of Lake Orion, and Brandon Caserta, 34, of Canton Township were freed after nearly two years behind bars.  

Andrew Birge, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, has vowed to retry the accused ringleaders Adam Fox, 38, of Potterville, and Barry Croft, 46, of Delaware. The four men in the Whitmer kidnapping case faced kidnapping conspiracy charges, a felony punishable by up to life in prison. 

cmauger@detroitnews.com