Shots traded in Walworth County standoff

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
— A Richmond Township man who exchanged gunfire with police was taken into custody about 7 p.m. Tuesday after a day-long standoff.

Walworth County Sheriff David Graves identified the man as Richard L. Sallmann, 49, of W8486 Turtle Lake Road, Delavan.

Sallmann’s two daughters were in the house for part of the standoff.

Graves said Sallmann surrendered a few minutes before 7 p.m. Up until then, he had fired several shots at law enforcement throughout Tuesday. One shot came close to hitting a Walworth County deputy, Graves said.

Sallmann raised his hands and surrendered but still was uncooperative with police, Graves said. No one was injured.

The standoff started Tuesday morning when the sheriff’s office received a 911 call about a domestic situation at the residence. The caller said Sallmann had pointed a gun at a family member. Graves said the caller was one of Sallmann’s sons, who left the property before the situation escalated.

Deputies rescued two children from the property north of Delavan in Richmond Township in western Walworth County. The children, 10 and 13 years old, were taken to be with family and were doing fine, Graves said.

Mary Anne Polk, who described herself as a close friend of Sallmann’s, said she spoke with Sallmann Tuesday morning and he was looking forward to spending the day with his daughters. Polk, who has worked at Sallmann’s farm, said he talked about walking the goats and taking down the family’s Christmas tree with the girls.

“It’s unfortunate that this escalated to this crisis,” she said.

SWAT teams from Beloit and Lake Geneva as well as Dane, Rock and Walworth counties sheriff’s offices responded. The SWAT teams were stationed outside Sallmann’s residence. Neighboring houses were evacuated and nearby roads were blocked for miles outside the police perimeter around Sallmann’s house.

Negotiators by 6 p.m. Tuesday were in an outbuilding at the property with Sallmann. Graves said officers were negotiating with Sallmann but keeping a safe distance.

Officers earlier fired tear gas into the building, but Sallmann refused to come out, Graves said.

Online court records indicate Sallmann is in the process of being divorced by his wife. In September, she also filed for and obtained a harassment restraining order against him.

Some neighbors described Sallmann as a quiet man who keeps to himself.

Another neighbor, Jerry Swanson, said Sallmann is a nice, pleasant beekeeper. He said he was surprised to find out about the situation when he returned to home Tuesday morning.

Swanson could not get to his home because authorities had closed roads in the area.

“Rick would never hurt those kids. I just hope he doesn’t hurt himself,” Swanson said while police were still attempting to end the situation.

“For him to do something like this is totally out of character,” Swanson said.

Last updated: 12:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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