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Resident questions police response to shots fired call

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Ted Sullivan
November 12, 2009
— Resident criticized police Wednesday for their response to this week’s random shooting, but police said they acted quickly and safely in a dangerous situation.

Two intoxicated men randomly fired nearly 50 shots Monday from a second-story window at 1107 Hamilton Ave., striking two homes and a storage shed across the Rock River.


Paul G. Botsford, 52, of 408 California Court, and Matthew J. Splinter, 35, of 1115 Hamilton Ave., were charged with felony first-degree reckless endangerment, misdemeanor possession of a firearm while intoxicated and misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed after the shooting.


Both men appeared in Rock County Court on Tuesday. Splinter was ordered held in the Rock County Jail on $4,500 cash bond, and Botsford was ordered held on $3,000 cash bond.


Garry Meister, who lives in the 1200 block of North Parker Drive, said residents in his neighborhood and others are lucky no one was hurt during the time it took police to respond.


He said he or his wife called police twice, and his neighbor also called twice.


“I’m not really trying to second guess the policemen. It just seemed like it took a long time to respond,” he said. “The amount of time it took to finally get that thing over, a whole lot of damage could have been done.”


The initial report of shots fired was made at 12:09 a.m., according to police reports, and the men were arrested at 1:15 a.m. or earlier.


Deputy Chief Steve Kopp said reports initially led police to the area of Black Bridge Road and Parker Drive on the east side of the river. He said officers went to that area and tried to pinpoint the location of the gunshots.


Officers checked the area on foot with shots echoing and eventually learned the gunfire was coming from across the river, Kopp said.


Officers immediately went to that location, but first they had to plan their approach to the armed gunmen and create a perimeter to protect the public, he said.


“We don’t rush blindly into these situations,” Kopp said. “If there was criticism of what someone thought was a slow response, so be it. We’re going to opt for safety every time.”


The men initially wouldn’t come out of the house, despite announcements on a public address system and a phone call, according to the criminal complaint. They eventually surrendered, but it was very close to ending differently.


“I don’t see how anybody can be critical of a potentially tragic situation that ends with no one being hurt,” Kopp said.


Inside the home, police found 47 shell casings from a .32-caliber handgun, 9 mm pistol and 12-gauge shotgun, police said.


Splinter later told police he and Botsford were intoxicated and decided to shoot toward a large tree, bird feeder and bird house, according to the criminal complaint.


He also told police he didn’t know police were in the area until they called the home, according to the criminal complaint.


Splinter is scheduled to next appear in court Tuesday, and Botsford is scheduled to next appear Friday.



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