La Crosse police shot and killed a carjacker Sunday evening at Eighth and Johnson streets.

La Crosse police officers shoot man officers say stole SUV with toddler inside

Part of Eighth Street was blocked off Sunday after an officer-involved shooting.

At about 5 p.m., Kneshay Fair was in the passenger seat of her Chevy Trailblazer, parked in La Crosse’s Houska Park with her two young daughters asleep in the back, when a gunman approached.

“He put the gun through the driver’s side window and told me to get out,” she said.

Fair, 23, grabbed her 3-year-old daughter while her husband, who was fishing nearby, fought with the gunman. She was trying to remove her 1-year-old daughter from the car when the man climbed into the driver’s seat and sped off with the toddler inside.

“It all happened so fast,” Fair said.

Police found the car minutes later and were pursuing north on Eighth Street when it drove through a construction site at Johnson Street, went airborne and crashed into a parked car about 5:10 p.m., said Duane Vetsch Jr., who witnessed the crash.

Two officers shot and killed the driver when he refused to comply with orders and they noticed a firearm inside the vehicle, police Capt. Jason Melby said. His name was not released.

The child was unharmed. No officers were injured.

Fair, who moved to La Crosse from Mississippi last year, did not know her child was unharmed until police transported her from Houska Park to Eighth Street, she said.

“Thank God she was safe,” she said. “But a lot was taken from me today.”

The state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting. It’s the La Crosse Police Department’s first officer-involved shooting where a suspect was killed since 1935.

The two officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave per department policy.

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Anne Jungen covers law enforcement and the criminal justice system in La Crosse County. She joined the Tribune reporting staff in December 2005. You can contact her directly at ajungen@lacrossetribune.com or 608-791-8224.

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