UPDATE: Gunman faces 2 felonies in hostage-taking - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

UPDATE: Gunman faces 2 felonies in hostage-taking

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SHAWANO (WAOW) – A gunman who held a fast food worker hostage in Wittenberg promised to surrender after police agreed to take him to a mental health facility, not jail, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

“Travis was very vocal that he wanted to go to a mental health facility,” the complaint said.

Travis Keiler, 28, of Gillett was charged with two felonies - taking hostages and failing to comply with officers. He was also charged with two misdemeanors - carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct.

Keiler is at Winnebago Mental Health Center for evaluation, the Shawano County district attorney said. Police have said depression may have played a role in the hostage-taking.

No date had been set Thursday for Keiler to make his first appearance in Shawano County Circuit Court.

Keiler, who had a .38-caliber pistol, was arrested following a two-hour standoff Tuesday afternoon at a McDonald's/Shell convenience store in which the fast food worker was held hostage for an hour, authorities said. No one was hurt.

During negotiations to get Keiler to surrender, Keiler told a detective that he had quit his job in DePere and had been “driving all over the area” before ending up in Wittenberg with the stolen pistol, the complaint said.

Keiler complained he had been followed by police and wanted to know why, the complaint said.

“Travis stated that the vehicles that were following him were all different types of vehicles and that they had 'fire plates' on them,” the complaint said.

After agreeing to surrender, Keiler put the gun down on a counter and walked outside with his hands up, the complaint said.

“Travis stated that there were no bombs, traps or other people inside the store that he knew about,” the complaint said.

The worker held hostage told investigators that Keiler let one person leave the store, telling him “you look like you've had a long day,” the complaint said.

At one one point in the ordeal, the hostage said he asked Keiler what was going on. “He told me you wouldn't believe me if I told you,” the hostage told investigators.

After about an hour, Keiler told the hostage to leave, instructing him to walk outside with his hands up, the complaint said.

“I was scared doing this,” the hostage told investigators in a three-page handwritten statement.


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SHAWANO (WAOW) - A 28-year-old man arrested after a hostage standoff in Wittenberg was charged with two felonies on Thursday.

Travis Keiler of Gillett was charged with one count of taking hostages and one count of failing to comply with officers, according to online Shawano County court records. He was also charged with two misdemeanors - carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct.

Keiler, who had a handgun, was arrested following a two-hour standoff Tuesday afternoon at a McDonald's/Shell convenience store in which a fast food worker was held hostage for an hour, authorities said. No one was hurt.

Keiler was later taken to Winnebago Mental Health Center for evaluation, the district attorney said. Police have said depression may have played a role in the hostage-taking.

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SHAWANO (WAOW) - A gunman suspected of holding a fast food worker hostage for an hour in Wittenberg before surrendering to police has been taken to Winnebago Mental Health Center for evaluation, the Shawano County District Attorney's office said Thursday.

Travis Keiler, 28, of Gillett, was arrested following the two-hour standoff Tuesday afternoon at a McDonald's/Shell convenience store, the agency said. No one was hurt.

Sheriff Randall Wright said a possible motive for the standoff was Keiler's depression. He did not elaborate.

No criminal charges had been filed against Keiler as of Thursday morning, according to online Shawano County court records. 

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WITTENBERG (WAOW) -- A 28-year-old gunman held a fast food worker hostage for about an hour Tuesday in Wittenberg, let him go unharmed and then surrendered about an hour later without incident, Shawano County Sheriff Randall Wright said.

The gunman, a Gillett man, was taken into custody and "his well-being will be assessed," the sheriff said in a statement.

No one was hurt in the drama that closed down U.S. Highway 45 for about two hours, featured officers with guns drawn and caused a school to lock down as a precaution, Wright said.

About 2 p.m., the sheriff's department received a "panic/hold-up alarm" from the McDonald's/Shell convenience store at 413 N. Genesee St. in Wittenberg, Wright said.

The suspect, armed with a handgun, let all people in the store leave except a lone worker, Wright said. The hostage was released unharmed about 3 p.m.

About an hour later, a sheriff's department hostage negotiator convinced the gunman to surrender, the sheriff said.

The motive for the incident was not immediately known, but the sheriff says depression was a factor. Officials say the suspect did not demand money and he was not related to the hostage.

"It was completely random," said Sheriff Wright.

The elementary and high schools in the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District went into lockdown for about 45 minutes Tuesday afternoon as a precaution, said superintendent Garrett Rogowski. He said the schools are located about two blocks away from the gas station. 

Students were released to go home, but parents and bus drivers were told to avoid the area where officers were on scene, Rogowski told Newsline 9. 

Newsline 9 spoke with some witnesses who saw what was happening on the outside, as well as some on the inside caught in the middle of it all.

"My knees almost buckled, I thought oh my gosh this is for real," said Roxanne Nitecki.

Nitecki was working the register at the Shell Gas Station in Wittenberg when she says a man walked in and stood behind her.

"I said, can I help you because you're not supposed to be behind here you know, and he said I'm taking over your shift," said Nitecki.

Nitecki says at first she was confused.

"I asked him if he was here to rob us and he said no I don't want your money," said Nitecki. "I had said to him what are you doing here if this isn't a robbery and he said I'm having a bad day."

She says that's when he pulled out a gun.

"I turn around and here he had the gun, so he said just get everybody out of here," said Nitecki.

Some customers began to leave the building, but Nitecki found the courage to stay.

"I was on my way out and I happened to see a lady up at the counter and I came back in to help her because I knew he wasn't here for us," said Nitecki.

During all this, Nitecki says the shift manager at McDonalds walked in. After checking on customers leaving the building, Nitecki returned to find the shift manager held hostage. She then left the building.

"I was nervous, my knees were shaking," she said.

Neighbors in the area say they were also caught off guard.

"We tried to stay away from windows and doors as much as possible trying to figure out what was kind of going on," said witness, Lacy Bigjohn.

Bigjohn lives in Wausau and was visiting family in Wittenberg.

"It was scary not knowing what was going to happen to us," said Bigjohn.

In the end no one was hurt, leaving a lot of people feeling grateful it wasn't worse.
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