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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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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.

(48) comments

Climatehoax

Buena vista, you're to stupid to have an opinion, go away.

rjunebug

Are you kidding me???? With a one year old in the car these well trained cops shot and killed someone because the person did not obey their commands and the cops seen a gun in the car. That is just ridiculous unless the person fired at the cops, but I have not heard that happened. Was the persons gun ever discharged? I hope we all get to see the body cameras of these cops.

Comment deleted.
PaulK

No, he saved a life.

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superman

As they should have to protect innocent lives.

superman

Kudos to the LAXPD! That family is still a family today thanks to your bravery and dedication! That is something to be proud of, nice work!

YellowBee

Thank you to the officers for responding and taking care of another idiot. By shooting him, you took care of the problem and that is one we the taxpayers don't have to pay for. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this incident. Please seek help .

f1zero

Good.

JS

Excellent job by the La Crosse Police Department! Carjacking by firearm, beating the husband, fleeing the police... The best part of the story is that the child was safe in the end and returned to his/her parents!

Thankfully La Crosse police don't have a "No Chase" policy like Barrett's Milwaukee police department where if the carjacker flees they cannot pursue. Not having this policy just saved this child.

Tribune, we want to know the name and criminal rap sheet on this carjacker/kidnapper. We also want to know which judge and what prison sentences/probation were handed to this carjacker/kidnapper in the past.

If Ramona was the judge, maybe call her too and see if she gave this esteeming kidnapper and carjacker a ride home after she gave him probation!

Tim Russell

And if none of your assumptions are correct, then what?

Technomom

My thoughts are with the family and hope the best for them.

Prairie

You are right Technomom. We should be thinking of the victims and the trauma the family endured. I am so sorry this happened to you. I know you just moved here last year and I hope you know that there are many good people in this area. Unfortunately the city has become a place where safety of its citizens is often in question. Please though know that most of us are good people and we hope you feel better, and safe, soon.

LittleTown

Shut the hell up Buena Vista, you're nothing but a troll trying to rile people up. Loser.

Buena Vista

What the heck is a 'troll'? I was only stating my opinion. No need to get hostile. There's enough of that already.

reader0520

He admitted his guilt when he told a woman to get out of her own car with a gun. Period. The officer is probably not happy that he was put in a position where he had to end a person's life - but that man made a choice to start that ball rolling. His actions could have prevented the whole mess. I don't like that a person was killed but he took off with a baby. You must get off on making people react. I can't understand how anyone else could sympathize with a man, wait, boy - who pulled a gun on a person minding her own business and her family.

David Lee

If my comments directed to the troll confused you, you should reread what I posted. Obvious not to you.

David Lee

You seriously don't know what a troll is? Look in the mirror. You already judged him with no facts, you sleazy troll.

reader0520

I'm confused as to whom you were responding. If you are telling me about judging him - you're darned right I did. If it turns out that I am wrong, I will absolutely apologize but until then - I'm sorry the guy is dead, but it could have been prevented.

Prairie

last week on WIZM the Mayor said the biggest issue for La Crosse in his mind...his number one priority was............roads.

crank

As it turned out, road construction seems to have helped stop the guy. Good job mayor!

Is this what you were trying to say?

canman

The officers did a commendable job in protecting the child in the vehicle from further harm. When the armed carjacker is identified, no doubt the gunman has a rap sheet a mile long.
This is responsible and responsive policing that should discourage other rift-raft. Now, if only the judicial system in La Crosse would be as responsible.

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canman

Your part of society's problem.

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america as founded

Buena Vista, apparently you are anti-police and against the rule of law. You are one sick individual. You need help.

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superman

I hope they are awarded all sorts of awards, paraded up and down the streets as a honored hero, and giving speeches about dedication to your children, friends and neighbors.

awol2009

The cop is the hero, he saved the child in the car that was hijacked and dispatched the animal that stole the car. How sad for the mother and her kids. It's not safe for them to go to a park in La Crosse where this fiasco started. Give the cop a medal.

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Seth Poole

Seriously, you are sick. Maybe consider what the Child and Mother went thru. Then the perp pulls a gun. Did you think the Cops should wait to see if he shoots at them, or kills the child? What a frickin fool.

2bad4u

Those officers were doing their job, and did it text book...one less "loser" off the street...We should be thanking the police, not ripping on them...Thanks LAXPD!!!

MomsAgainstMeth

Amen!

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MomsAgainstMeth

I am sure the mother of the child is having nightmares. You should be ashamed of yourself for being so callus. The officer was doing his job, protecting a child, and did try to stop the criminal. How can anyone in their right mind tear down a man who saved an innocent child, and a family from complete anguish. God help you.

PaulK

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a standard that applies to a trial, not to an armed suspect who threatens a police officer.

Monteee

Ramona Gonzales is beside herself. She would have been more than happy to drive the guy anywhere he wanted. All he had to do was ask.

LAX

You're a nitwit, Montee...

laxlax

But is he wrong?

superman

Now that's funny right there....!

telephoneman

I wonder if this was drug related? The guy looking for some easy money? Seems like drugs seem to be at the root of a lot of crimes in LaCrosse.

takka

The city sure has changed in recent years.

CJB

And with the type of people the esteemed mayor seems to want to invite, you will see more and more of this. Sad that so few recognize the problem.

capedcrusader

Grow up.

union conservative

Grow up?

Why is telling the truth so hard to understand? The city has changed and not for the better. Until we get hard on crime this type of activity will become more popular. It was only a matter of time. Now the police need ours and city leaders support. This won't heal over night.

Tim Russell

Actually it is the Lords that are inviting these kind of people to come and live in La Crosse, not the Mayor. They do it because they can't rent their crappy properties to anyone else.

PaulK

Its sad, but name one place that hasn't changed.

Climatehoax

God job officers, way to take care of the garbage.👍

union conservative

X2

Buena Vista

...innocent until proven guilty. Or did you forget that part?

justmythoughts

Isn't the fact that the suspect was in the STOLEN vehicle with the child, who would have been classified as kidnapped at that point, when officers attempted to detain him more or less prove his guilt? Now granted, we may not all be as "educated" as you are, but the simple FACTS that he 1. Committed a violent criminal act while armed (that would be the grand theft auto while armed, displaying and threatening with a firearm) 2. Kidnapped a helpless child restrained in the vehicle 3. Ran from police until he crashed the stolen vehicle and 4. Refused to comply with officers of the LCPD, with all of those FACTS, you are going to use the due process expression of "guilty until proven innocent?" Am I missing something here or are you seriously willing to accept your fate if you are in a situation where an officer has to choose to protect you or allow a perp due process???? Hello wall!!!!

74Dartman

Dead carjacker or did you forget that part? He got what he deserved. So what is your problem?

Gordeeva

I guess the fact that he was in the stolen vehicle, trying to kidnap a child would prove he's guilty. Are you really that ignorant??

justmythoughts

Isn't the fact that the suspect was in the STOLEN vehicle with the child, who would have been classified as kidnapped at that point, when officers attempted to detain him more or less prove his guilt? Now granted, we may not all be as "educated" as you are, but the simple FACTS that he 1. Committed a violent criminal act while armed (that would be the grand theft auto while armed, displaying and threatening with a firearm) 2. Kidnapped a helpless child restrained in the vehicle 3. Ran from police until he crashed the stolen vehicle and 4. Refused to comply with officers of the LCPD, with all of those FACTS, you are going to use the due process expression of "guilty until proven innocent?" Am I missing something here or are you seriously willing to accept your fate if you are in a situation where an officer has to choose to protect you or allow a perp due process???? Hello wall!!!!

superman

BV, you are asking the officers to be mind readers.

They did the right thing.

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