Sheriff's office appeals for help to find man who targeted hunters
No one has been arrested, but Graves said Monday there's no cause for anyone to avoid the Kettle Moraine State Forest, where the incident occurred.
Graves said he would not discuss the nature of the evidence to protect the investigation.
Graves' office on Monday appealed to the public, asking anyone with information or who might have been in the forest that morning to step forward.
Investigators specifically asked for information about a man and woman who were seen in the area just before shots were fired and who might have seen something to help the investigation. They were described as white and 50 to 60 years old. He wore a dark green shirt and white hat. She wore a white vest.
Graves called the incident highly unusual.
A father and son from Waukesha County were hunting deer and wearing blaze orange when the father saw someone wearing a hunter's facemask and wearing camouflage or similar clothing shoot at him with a handgun.
The gunman shot once, and the shot was close enough that the hunter decided to shoot back with his .30 caliber rife, Graves said.
"He was pretty sure it was directed at him," Graves said.
No words were exchanged during the incident, Graves said.
"The evidence we found around the crime scene indicates absolutely that what he told us was true," Graves said.
People should feel safe in the forest, Graves said.
"They should use caution," he said, "and if they see anything unusual, they should give us a call right away."
The incident occurred at about 8:25 a.m. near the Walworth-Jefferson county line near Bluff and Tamarack Roads in Walworth County.
The hunters were not injured. It's unknown if the person with the handgun was injured, according to a sheriff's office news release.
Deputies from Jefferson County started cordoning off parts of the Kettle Moraine State Forest as soon as six-and-a-half minutes after the call came in, Graves said.
Walworth County deputies, including the SWAT and K9 teams, were called out.
A helicopter and several dog teams later joined the search, but the gunman managed to disappear.
Assisting were officers and dogs from Rock and Waukesha counties, the Janesville Police Department, Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin DNR, Air One Police Helicopter, town of LaGrange fire and rescue units and the Racine Fire Belles.
Graves thanked the owners of S&R Egg Farm, where a command post was set up.
The search ended about 3:30 p.m. Saturday. No additional searches were planned.
Graves said investigators don't know what the motive for the attack might have been, and for that reason the identities of the hunters were not released.