Published January 13, 2015
As authorities released a chilling timeline of the weekend's shooting spree, students returned to classes Wednesday in a northern Wisconsin city shaken by a rampage that left seven dead.
Tyler Peterson, an off-duty sheriff's deputy, burst into a pizza party at his ex-girlfriend's home early Sunday and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle. Six people, including the ex-girlfriend, were killed, and a seventh was wounded.
Hours later, officers closed in on Peterson near a friend's home. He was shot four times, the last a fatal, self-inflicted wound to the head, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Tuesday.
At a news conference Tuesday, Van Hollen said Peterson was shot once in the left bicep, from a distance, and apparently shot himself in the head three times with a pistol.
Two shots struck under his chin, while the third hit him in the right side of the head, the attorney general said.
The shootings devastated Crandon, population 2,000, where many people knew at least one of the victims.
"I keep thinking, like many of the families, that I'm going to wake up and this is not something that happened, that it's just going to be normal again," said Pastor Bill Farr of Praise Chapel Community Church, which all of the victims' families attend. "That's not going to be the case."
All six victims were either students or recent graduates of Crandon High School, where Peterson also had graduated. Classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday, and resumed Wednesday.
On a chilly, rainy Wednesday morning, buses and parents dropped off students at the school as reporters and news photographers were kept behind a fence about a hundred yards away.
Van Hollen said the shooting occurred after the 20-year-old Peterson, who also was a part-time police officer, went to Jordanne Murray's home, where she and friends were having a pizza party during the school's homecoming weekend.
Peterson argued with Murray after accusing her of dating someone else, Van Hollen said. Murray demanded Peterson leave, and he did, only to return with the rifle.
"He didn't speak, he simply opened fire," Van Hollen said.
Investigators found three bodies on or next to a couch — Lindsey Stahl, 14; Aaron Smith, 20, and Bradley Schultz, 20. Murray, 18, was found in the kitchen.
Lianna Thomas, 18, was found in a bedroom closet, and Katrina McCorkle, 18, was just outside it. Both had apparently been trying to hide, Van Hollen said.
The last person shot was survivor Charlie Neitzel, 21, who pleaded with Peterson after the first shot, only to have him fire again, Van Hollen said. Neitzel fell to the floor, where he lay still as Peterson fired a third time.
"Playing dead until Peterson left, Neitzel survived," Van Hollen said.
Neitzel was in fair condition Tuesday after surgery to remove debris from his wounds, said Karla David, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield.
The victims' families have met with Peterson's family and "hold no animosity toward them," Van Hollen said.
He said they told him they want "space to grieve" and asked that news media leave them alone.
The families, the church and the town's one funeral home were still working on funeral arrangements Tuesday. Farr's wife, Sjana Farr, said Peterson's family had requested his funeral be last out of respect for the victims' families.