Officers Cleared in Sept. WTS Paradigm Shooting

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By: 
Kevin Murphy

MADISON–State investigators have cleared two Middleton police officers and two Dane County sheriff’s deputies involved in the fatal shooting of a WTS Paradigm employee killed by law enforcement after shooting at his co-workers, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said.

“There was no other option,” for the four responding officers after Anthony Tong, 43, refused commands to drop his weapon, Ozanne said at a Monday news conference.

Each of the four responding officers shot at Tong, Ozanne said. Tong also fired in the direction of the officers.

Tong died from a shot to his chest, however, the bullet disintegrated preventing State Crime Lab technicians from determine who fired it, said Middleton Police Chief Charles Foulke.

“The use of deadly force used by officers in this incident was privileged. Responding to an active shooter, who is armed and is not responding to commands to drop his weapon gives law enforcement really no other option but to use deadly force as well,” Ozanne said.

The responding officers from Middleton were Tyler Loether and Richard O’Connor and sheriff’s deputies Matthew Earll and David Lambrecht.

Tong was in a common area and had a handgun pointed at his head when the four officers entered WTS from two sides of the building on Deming Way.

Ignoring the demands to “drop the gun,” Tong lowered the gun and pointed it in the direction of the offices and fired several shots. Law enforcement fired their rifles until the threat stopped, according to the report conducted by the state Division of Criminal Investigation.

Tong had a ballistic plate, an armored plate which is slipped into a vest, in a bag near him.

The investigation which cleared the officers included video from the Middleton officers’ body cameras, witness statements and autopsy findings.

Sheriff David Mahoney called the investigation, which produced a 2,000-page report, “very thorough.”

On Sept. 18, Middleton escaped becoming another site of one of the country’s mass killings when Tong suddenly began firing at his co-workers with a handgun he assembled himself from parts bought on line, Ozanne said.

Although Tong wounded four individuals all survived due to “courageous acts” by his colleagues, law enforcement, first responders and trauma care professionals at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, he said.

Authorities may never know Tong’s motive for the shooting. Co-workers said they didn’t think he targeted anyone specifically just the unlucky people who were in his line of sight, Ozanne said.

Tong worked on a three-person team and none were among his victims. He reportedly had little interaction with other co-workers but Ozanne wouldn’t factor that into Tong’s decision to open fire inside the software development company’s offices

Tong was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and was getting treatment for his mental illness prior to his death, Ozanne said.

A prior South Dakota resident, authorities there revoked Tong’s concealed carry permit in 2004, confiscated his firearms and hospitalized him in a mental health commitment, Ozanne said.

However, South Dakota officials never reported this commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background System licensed firearm dealers access when performing required background checks on gun buyers, he said.

Since Tong built his own handgun from parts, he avoided the check performed on firearm buyers, which is why Ozanne called for legislation to require the same check be performed on those buying certain gun parts.

“There’s an industry that builds and sells these lower (part of a handgun) and everything needed to turn one into a firearm. Yet…through holes and flaws in our nation’s gun laws, Mr. Tong was able to obtain everything he needed to attempt a mass killing,” said Ozanne. 

The gun Tong built functioned just like a factory-made “Glock” pistol, Ozanne said.

The factors that lead to Tong’s shooting co-workers goes beyond his mental illness, Ozanne said. It includes the inability to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them “through common sense gun laws” is responsible for “shooting after shooting,” he said.

The shooting affected the “entire community” said Foulke but the officers have since returned to the same assigned duties they performed before the shooting.

“I’m proud of them and they’re back at work but this is something that’s going with stay with all of us for a long time,” he said.

The DCI’s full report on the shooting is available at: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/sites/default/files/oid-reports/18-6900/Anth...

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