/ Articles / Winchester man charged after recklessly firing gun

Winchester man charged after recklessly firing gun

October 11, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

A Winchester man recklessly endangered public safety by firing a gun into the night Oct. 1, according to a complaint recently filed in Vilas County Circuit Court. 

Matthew Wilson, 38, will answer to second degree recklessly endangering safety, a felony, and disorderly conduct with use of a dangerous weapon, at an adjourned initial appearance later this month. He is in jail in lieu a $15,000 cash bond. 

During his initial appearance before Judge Neal Nielsen on Monday, Wilson indicated he does not qualify for a public defender due to his wife’s income, though they are separated. Wilson was given an indigency form to fill out before his next appearance. Martha Milanowski, district attorney, is prosecuting the case. 

Vilas County deputies responded to a 911 call from a man on Adelaide Lake just before midnight on Sept. 30, indicating he’d just been shot at. The person the caller suspected was shooting was camping and staying in a tent in the area, he told deputies. 

As multiple police were responding, a woman phoned and noted Wilson was texting with her and told her he felt he was being threatened so had “fired a warning shot into the air to scare them away.” The caller said Wilson was not likely in a sound state of mind and advised deputies to proceed with caution as he would “fire at anybody who pulled in the driveway,” the report indicates. 

Police were told Wilson likely had two shotguns and two rifles and thus prepared in full ballistic protection armored gear and a had a patrol rifle in a low ready position before attempting to make contact with him. 

Dispatch made contact after several phone attempts to speak with Wilson, who was directed by them to walk towards the end of the driveway to meet officers. Wilson did not have any weapons when he met police there and was safely handcuffed and frisked, based on the criminal complaint. 

Wilson — informed he was not under arrest at that moment — informed deputies he “did fire a 20 gauge shotgun into the air as a warning shot” and went on to explain he felt he’d been harassed and threatened by someone in the area, but he could not recall their name, the report says. 

Wilson also told deputies he’d been staying at the Manitowish Waters Discovery Center, but had since been banned due to a “conflict with the owners.” He said he’d had threatening message on his phone and when he let his dog out that night, observed a vehicle driving erratically in the area. When the car started to slow by his drive, Wilson said he stepped outside with his shotgun pointing it straight into the air as felt “extremely threatened and in fear for his safety.” He said his cell reception didn’t work there so he couldn’t call 911, though his story to officers changed a few times, according to the complaint. 

Authorities met with the complainant-makers, who noted they lived in the area and had been going to their property when they heard a loud bang and heard the “sound of BBs whizzing through the leaves and trees right in front of the vehicle.” The callers were concerned and afraid they were being shot at and worried Wilson may go for larger firearms, the report reads. 

Neighbors confirmed hearing what sounded like gunshots. Deputies also surveyed the property where they found two loaded shotguns and firearms in a camper. A prescription of marijuana — empty — also was found, the report states. 

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