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Man in standoff is under observation

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
December 31, 2009
— A Richmond Township man accused of shooting at police during a daylong standoff Tuesday will be evaluated to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial.

Richard L. Sallmann, 49, of W8486 Turtle Lake Road, Delavan, is being held on $250,000 cash bond.


A Walworth County judge Wednesday ordered Sallmann evaluated. Sallmann did not appear in court and remained on suicide watch in a rubber safety cell at Walworth County Jail, Sheriff David Graves said.


Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo said Sallmann will be charged with three counts of first-degree reckless endangering safety for pointing a firearm at family members and law enforcement and shooting several rounds at police throughout the day.


The prosecutor said she expects to further charge Sallmann with false imprisonment while armed, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and battery of a law enforcement officer for kicking a sheriff's deputy and breaking a bone in the deputy's hand at the jail after his arrest.


Attorney Christopher Kuehn, who has represented Sallmann in previous court proceedings, said his client has severe mental health issues, including bipolar disorder.


Court proceedings could stall if Sallmann is found to be incompetent. Kuehn said his client is likely to become competent if given proper medication.


"With someone who is bipolar, off their meds, actively symptomatic of their disease, they're not going to be found competent, but they might be found to be able to become competent," Kuehn said.


Mary Anne Polk, who described herself as a close friend of Sallmann's, said she spoke with Sallmann on Tuesday morning, and she said he was looking forward to spending Tuesday 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.


She confirmed Sallmann's mental health history and said he had not been taking his medication.


The standoff started Tuesday morning when the sheriff's office received a 911 call about a domestic situation at the residence.


Authorities said the caller was Sallmann's 23-year-old son, who came to the house after one of his younger sisters called him because the father had pointed at gun at her. Sallmann's two daughters, ages 10 and 13, were with him at the house on Turtle Lake Road.


Once the son arrived at the house, Sallmann pointed the gun at him and threatened to shoot all three, the 23-year-old told authorities.


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.


Deputies rescued the daughters from the property around noon and took them to be with family.


Graves said Sallmann turned himself in before 7 p.m. Tuesday. He remained uncooperative for most of the time, prompting sheriff's deputies to place him in a safety cell.


Up until his surrender, Sallmann had fired several shots at law enforcement throughout Tuesday. One shot came close to hitting a Walworth County deputy, Graves said. No one was injured.


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


He was arrested in April on suspicion of disorderly conduct and spent the night in jail, Graves said. The case was later dismissed.


Mary Sallmann's divorce attorney, John Dade, on Wednesday told reporters outside the courtroom that the family was fine but wanted to stay away from the public eye.


"It's been Mary Sallmann's observation that his mental health, his behavior has declined," Dade said.


The attorney said it has been a traumatic experience from the family but they are trying to move on.


The competency examination ordered by Judge Robert Kennedy is to be returned to the court within 17 days.


Sallmann is scheduled to be back in court Friday, Jan. 8.



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