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UPDATE: La Crosse man accused of pointing gun at police charged in four incidents over 10 days

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John H. Czapiewski

John H. Czapiewski

A 61-year-old La Crosse man is being held in the La Crosse County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond after allegedly pointing a firearm at Onalaska police officers Sunday.

John H. Czapiewski was charged Monday in La Crosse County Circuit Court with two felonies and 12 misdemeanors covering four incidents over a 10-day period.

The most serious charges stem from the Sunday incident, in which he faces felony counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety with use of a weapon and failure to comply with being taken into custody, and misdemeanor counts of pointing a firearm at a person, disorderly conduct and bail jumping.

According to the criminal complaint, police were called shortly after 7 a.m. to a residence on the 600 block of 2nd Avenue South, where Czapiewski was sleeping uninvited on a back porch. The resident, a relative of Czapiewski, warned police that Czapiewski has a volatile nature.

The complaint says police found Czapiewski on the floor covered by a blanket. After an officer told Czapiewski “It’s time to get up,” Czapiewski rolled over and pointed a black handgun at police. An officer yelled “gun,” and police retreated to the backyard and took cover. Onalaska police summoned tactical assistance from the La Crosse County Emergency Response Team.

Czapiewski reportedly resisted attempts at negotiation. He yelled about the FBI and used profane language to describe law enforcement. The standoff ended when police fired five non-lethal rounds to bring Czapiewski under control. No one else was injured in the incident.

Onalaska police closed traffic on 2nd Avenue South from Elm Street to Oak Forest Drive and asked citizens to avoid the area. The street was reopened shortly after noon.

The complaint also addresses the following other incidents:

March 25: The Affordable Inn in La Crosse showed police a video of Czapiewski stealing an ashtray from the hotel, which led to a misdemeanor theft charge.

April 1: Police were called to a Rose Street address in La Crosse, where Czapiewski had rented a room for the night but was refusing to leave by the 11 a.m. checkout time. The complaint says Czapiewski refused a police order to unlock the door and threw a ceramic plate toward the door opening. Police unlocked the door with a screwdriver and placed Czapiewski under arrest. The incident triggered misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, resisting an officer and bail jumping.

April 3: An Onalaska resident said Chapiewski entered his 3rd Avenue home uninvited during the overnight hours. The resident recognized Czapiewski and called police shortly after 4:30 a.m. The complaint says Czapiewski damaged a chain lock to gain entry. The resident said he wasn’t sure how long Czapiewski had been inside but believed it was a considerable amount of time because multiple items in the house had been moved. The complaint says Czapiewski was found with a set of the resident’s keys. Czapiewski was charged with criminal trespass, criminal damage to property, theft, disorderly conduct and bail jumping, all misdemeanors.

Assistant La Crosse County District Attorney Nick Passe asked for a $100,000 cash bond. He said Czapiewski has issues with “schizophrenia” and alcohol and that he’s a danger to himself and the community. Passe said Czapiewski’s behavior “escalated quite a bit over the past couple of weeks” and that the most recent incidents could have have resulted in injury or death.

Czapiewski interrupted Passe and angrily denied he suffers from mental health issues or alcohol abuse. He told Judge Ramona Gonzalez that he’s a victim of “false accusations of the police officers.”

Gonzalez agreed with Passe that “the issue is one of safety for both the defendant and the community.” However, she questioned the amount of Passe’s bond request given that Czapiewski qualifies for a public defender.

The $10,000 cash bail ordered by Gonzalez includes a no-alcohol provision and multiple no-contacts.

Here are tips to prevent your home from being broken into. Remember, if you observe a suspicious person or behavior, call 911.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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