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Wyatt Helfrich

Helfrich

A La Crosse man turned to his passenger and grabbed a loaded firearm during a traffic stop early Monday as a La Crescent officer approached his car.

“Are you ready for this?” Wyatt Helfrich asked his passenger, according to court records.

Helfrich, 19, fired at officer Ryan Quanrud during the stop for speeding and other infractions about 1:30 a.m. on Hwy. 16 near Miller’s Corner, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Houston County District Court charging him and his passenger with attempted murder and other crimes.

The officer took cover and returned fire with a second officer, Christopher Frick.

Helfrich and passenger, 19-year-old William Wallraff of Holmen, sped off and reached speeds of 100 mph through Hokah as Wallraff fired multiple shots at pursing officers, according to the complaint. One officer in pursuit said the car would slow to lure squads closer before Wallraff fired.

The car struck spike strips and drove into a ditch on Hwy. 44 near Sanden Road. Police arrested the men minutes later after they fled into a cornfield, where they left behind a 20-gauge shotgun, rifle and ammunition.

Helfrich was treated for a minor injury to the back of the neck. Wallraff was not injured.

Neither La Crescent officer was injured, and both are on standard administrative leave.

During interviews, the men said they removed Helfrich’s monitoring bracelet and planned to flee with firearms, which earlier were locked and unloaded in the backseat of the car.

They grew nervous when they saw two officers early Monday at the Kwik Trip in La Crescent and loaded the firearms in the front seat before the traffic stop, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors charged both men with seven crimes, including two counts each of attempted first-degree murder, first and second-degree assault and fleeing police.

Both men are jailed in Houston County; Helfrich on a $500,000 conditional bond or $1 million unconditional bond and Wallraff on a $400,000 conditional bond or $800,000 unconditional bond.

They return to court Aug. 14.

At the time of Monday’s shooting, Helfrich was free on a signature bond with GPS monitoring and house arrest issued for a possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine case in La Crosse County.

Helfrich was on a signature bond in that case when he failed to appear for his preliminary hearing on June 14 and La Crosse County Circuit Judge Elliott Levine issued a warrant for his arrest. He was arrested July 9 for stealing a hat and phone charger from Shopko in Onalaska and a $1,000 cash bond was imposed by Circuit Judge Scott Horne. Circuit Judge Todd Bjerke converted it to a $2,500 signature bond on July 17.

Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating and will turn its findings to the Winona County Attorney’s Office.

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Police and courts reporter

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.

(20) comments

ou812

littie timmy, I WILL bet my IQ is much higher than yours!!!!

Mi scusi

What is with the stupid title to this article? Are you ready for this? What does that mean? Can we be a little more professional with a serious subject?

YellowBee

Kudos to the cops !! I hope it never happens again, but if it does, aim for the kill....then it's done and over!! We taxpayers would appreciate it.

laxlax

If the judge in LaCrosse County wouldn't have converted his $1000 cash bond to a $2500 signature bond, he wouldn't have been out which means this wouldn't have happened. Of course I am not blaming LaCrosse County judges for his ignorant behavior but I am saying that they need to stop with these repeat offenders getting signature bonds only to get out and offend again.

ou812

Tim, I'M thinking your an idiot from WI.

Tim Russell

Who are you kidding? You can't think with that little brain.

truthbknown

Learn how to spell before you call other people idiots

The Mouse of Death

[angry]It would behoove to punish criminals with strict probation because recidivism is indeed polymatic.

ou812

What the h-ll are you talking about JONNY DUMMY

Uncle Harry

not to make light of the situation, but after reading the title, all I can picture is them making the stop to the song "Jock Jam", and the perps mouthing "are you ready for this, before getting out, and being blasted by police.

Ak0rn6

next time hopefully officers will have a better shot. What pukes!

Mo' Money Scott Walker

Thank you to the 2 officers involved! These criminals did not intend to let anyone get in their way. If you had not stopped them, something worse may have happened down the road, Who knows how many lives you may have saved. La Crescent is lucky to have these officers who protect and serve their community, and I commend your bravery!

Tim Russell

I'm thinking your brother must be a cop in La Crescent!

Mo' Money Scott Walker

Tim, I have no relatives, friends, or acquaintances working for La Crescent or any other PD. If I had been in their place, and one of those thugs got out of the car and started shooting at me, I would've went running for the hills in need of new underpants! I think it's amazing that they kept level headed, returned fire, and were able to pursue these criminals. These 2 officers, and their department did an outstanding job protecting their community, and deserve a big thank you from all of us.

Tim Russell

Yeah right!
Is your brother the Chief of Police in La Crescent?

Mo' Money Scott Walker

Tim, I honestly do not know any police officers or anyone in law enforcement. I just find it amazing that there are people willing to put themselves in the line of fire. These men were looking for trouble, and who knows what would've happened if these officers had not seen them. Something truly tragic may have occurred down the road. The officers and anyone involved are hero's in my book.

wknmom

Hopefully Houston County judges will lock them up and throw away the key since La Crosse county judges' slap on the wrists didn't seem to keep them out of trouble.

reader0520

way to waste their lives. DUMB!!

johnnybragatti

Kwik trip is nothing but problems,
and Millers corner ain"t no prize.

Bfish123

Miller's corner is just a bend in the road. And what does quick trip have to do withat any of this. What are you talking about?

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