Poynette man held on $500,000 bail after armed standoff

A judge on Tuesday ordered a Poynette man to be held on a half-million dollars cash bail after an armed standoff with law enforcement in the village a week earlier.

Michael Morgan, 40, is facing three counts of first-degree attempted homicide, three counts of intentionally pointing a firearm at an officer, one count of pointing a firearm at another, one count of domestic negligence in handling a weapon, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of obstructing an officer.

District Attorney Jane Kohlwey insisted on the necessity of “substantial cash bail” during Morgan’s bail hearing in Columbia County Circuit Court on Tuesday, recommending $750,000 cash bond.

“This defendant placed himself and probably everyone else within a couple-block area in harm’s way,” said Kohlwey. “He was shooting a 30-06 caliber deer rifle at other residences, into the air and inside his residence itself, at officers, at other civilians, all apparently in his attempt to be shot at himself.”

The criminal complaint is based on the reports of 20 named officers including village of Poynette police officers, lieutenants, sergeants and detectives of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin State Patrol troopers, noting officers to have been in “full military-style law enforcement uniform.”

Officers were first dispatched just past 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 when Columbia County Dispatch had received a report that Morgan had been drinking, carrying a gun and upset over family issues. One caller described Morgan as suicidal and another saying that he had already fired twice, hearing the family in the background.

The first officer on the scene reported seeing one of Morgan’s children standing on the front doorstep, crying, saying that Morgan had been drinking, was trying to kill himself and had fired the gun at least once. The family would later tell authorities that he had drank nearly a full bottle of Southern Comfort and taken some number of over the counter pain pills, an incident coming at the end of years-long depression issues.

When officers arrived, according to his family, he told them, “I’m going to shoot them so they kill me.”

More officers arrived, taking cover behind their vehicles, while the initial officer ordered Morgan to put his gun down and come out. Officers described Morgan as coming out of the house with his rifle parallel to the ground, at times pointed at officers, then pointing up and shooting toward neighboring homes.

Morgan went back into the house before his wife and son walked out the front door with the family’s dogs. An officer reported seeing Morgan again raise the rifle, pointing it at officers, his family, then firing at a squad car, with deputies firing back, with Morgan going back into the house.

Inside, Morgan called Columbia County Dispatch and told officers he was putting the gun down and would be coming out. Morgan then, with his hands in the air, backed out of the home and toward the officers, and once he had reached the road, was ordered to lie down on his stomach.

Morgan reportedly answered, “What if I don’t? Will you shoot me?” An officer then shot Morgan with a Taser and he was taken into custody.

“I believe that the disregard for life he showed at the time of the incident would also be a high risk to flee the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution in this case,” said Kohlwey in court.

Defense attorney Amanda Riek said that Morgan’s immediate family are all in the county and extended family within the state, and that following prior run-ins with the law, Morgan had not failed to appear for court, and that if he were released, he would be going back to Poynette.

“He lives there with his 15-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, he went to school here all his life and was working in Portage,” Riek said. “And his wife was working until a couple of weeks ago. They learned that she was diagnosed with lung cancer and brain cancer, and it is my understanding that both of those things are terminal.”

Although there were around 20 officers present for the incident, Riek pointed out that although he had reportedly pointed his gun at officers and had been firing it, there was a lack of direct evidence of Morgan aiming the weapon at any person with the intention of doing harm and that although he had reportedly fired in the direction of a nearby home, there was no reporting of bullet holes found at any residences.

Daily Register