MILWAUKEE – A man accused of fatally shooting three people at his Milwaukee apartment complex this month had two firearms confiscated from him in 2008 after he said he sensed demons and witchcraft in his mother's house.
But Dan Popp petitioned to have his guns released, and the firearms were turned over to his brother six months later, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1pMaZhP ) reported.
Investigators would not say if a rifle and a handgun found at the triple homicide were the same guns confiscated from Popp.
Eight years ago, Greenfield police took a Bushmaster assault rifle and a 9 mm handgun from the home Popp shared with his mother. Popp was taken to Milwaukee County's Mental Health Complex on an emergency detention in February 2008.
Popp told an officer "people were following him because they wanted to murder him" and that he didn't want to stay at his mother's house because he "senses demons in the other residents" and "believes there was witchcraft going on there," according to the police report.
Police took Popp into custody on an emergency detention. It is not clear whether Popp was committed at the time, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Popp later filed to have the two guns returned. Police records show the guns were released to Popp's brother that August.
An emergency detention does not bar someone from getting their guns back or from buying new ones, under federal or state law.
A hearing on Popp's petition to have his guns returned was postponed twice. Then on July 30, 2008, Greenfield City Attorney Roger C. Pyzyk filed a letter that the issue had been "resolved" with Popp's attorney and there was "no need to continue this matter."
Pyzyk was not available for comment early this week, but Greenfield Police Chief Bradley R. Wentlandt said he recently asked Pyzyk about the case and the city attorney said he believed the judge was likely to return the firearms to Popp. Pyzyk recalled coming up with an arrangement in which Popp's brother agreed to take and secure the guns in northern Wisconsin, away from his younger brother, according to Wentlandt.
"Our policy is we generally don't give firearms back to people who are involved in a mental health-related call and we require a court order to return them," Wentlandt said. "Obviously in this case there was a resolution short of a judge."
Popp, 39, is charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 40-year-old Jesus Manso-Perez, 36-year-old Phia Vue and 32-year-old Mai Vue, who were fatally shot March 6. Popp is also charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide after authorities say he shot at Manso-Perez's 18-year-old son.
Popp's attorney, Christopher Hartley, has raised the question of his mental competency. The judge has ordered a competency evaluation, which is due back next month.
Hartley did not return messages for comment Wednesday. Popp remains in the Milwaukee County Jail.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com