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UPDATED: Medical examiner identifies homicide victim

JANESVILLE

Clifford A. Grice, 41, of Janesville, was shot to death on the city’s south side Wednesday in an incident police are calling a “domestic-related” homicide.

Lucas E. Stuhr, 39, of Browntown was taken into custody after a pursuit by Green County authorities and was being held on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting, Janesville police Lt. Charles Aagaard said in a press conference Thursday at the Janesville Police Department.

The shooting occurred in the driveway outside Grice’s home in the 2600 block of Kellogg Avenue. It followed a “verbal altercation” between the two men “over a relationship” with a Browntown woman, Aagaard said.

Grice was shot “multiple times,” and he died, police said.

The woman, who had ended a relationship with Stuhr and had started a relationship with Grice, was present during the argument, and she was the person who called 911 after the shooting, Aagaard said.

Aagaard said police knew of a history of domestic violence between Stuhr and the woman, but they were not aware of any restraining order she had against Stuhr.

Stuhr and Grice had never met before, and police weren’t sure why Stuhr showed up at Grice’s home, Aagaard said.

Several shots were fired from a semiautomatic handgun, and several shots hit Grice, Aagaard said.

The Rock County Medical Examiner’s Office identified Grice as the victim at about 7 p.m. Thursday in a news release. Preliminary forensic results confirmed Grice’s death was the result of “homicidal firearm related trauma,” according to the release.

Stuhr gave police a statement after he was taken into custody Wednesday, but Aagaard declined to give any details pending the investigation.

An autopsy was conducted Thursday morning at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Department, Aagaard said.

Police say Stuhr fled in his vehicle Wednesday night. Janesville police notified surrounding jurisdictions to be on the lookout for the vehicle, which later was spotted near Monroe. Green County sheriff’s deputies and Monroe police were involved in a 20-mile pursuit of the vehicle from west of Monroe east on Highway 11.

Green County Sheriff Jeff Skatrud said police were waiting for Stuhr at his home in Browntown. When Stuhr arrived, he pulled into his driveway followed by squad cars. Stuhr pulled through the yard of his home, drove through fields and back onto Highway 11 before fleeing, Skatrud said.

The pursuit went through Monroe and through Brodhead. At one point, Stuhr managed to avoid stop sticks deputies had deployed across the road to deflate the vehicle’s tires, Skatrud said.

The chase ended at Crazy Horse Campground off County F west of Brodhead, where the vehicle was cornered by police, Skatrud said.

“It was a dead end, and he really couldn’t get any farther,” Skatrud said.

According to a Green County Sheriff’s Office news release, Stuhr was by himself, and when he got out of his vehicle, he threw a gun into a snowbank. Police recovered the gun.

Stuhr surrendered without incident, and no one was injured during the pursuit, police said.

Stuhr is being held at the Rock County Jail pending his initial court appearance.

Police had been dispatched to the Kellogg Avenue home at 6:15 p.m. for a report of shots fired and had cordoned off the area at Kellogg and South Crosby avenues for hours Wednesday night.

One neighbor said she had heard “five or six” gunshots and then heard a woman screaming. The woman said the gunshots sounded to her like they came from a “small-caliber” handgun.

The Kellogg Avenue neighborhood was mostly quiet Thursday.

One neighbor, a man who didn’t want to give his name, said he lives near the house where the shooting happened, a duplex on the north side of Kellogg Avenue.

The man said he heard several gunshots Wednesday night and went outside to see what happened.

He said his neighbor, a “man in his 40s” whom he recognized, was lying in blood.

The man said he heard a woman say that after the shooting, someone had fled in a dark-colored SUV.

The man said that in the past, he had talked to the neighbor who was shot. He said the neighbor had a roommate and at least one child.

He said police were in the neighborhood until about 2 a.m. Thursday.

Police confirmed the man had a roommate, but they said the roommate didn’t have any connection to the shooting and wasn’t home at the time.

A Gazette reporter at the scene Thursday observed a woman crying in a parked car outside a duplex on the north side of Kellogg Avenue. A few people came out of the duplex and met the woman. They embraced, and then the group went back inside.

Several residents attended Thursday’s press conference. Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said they were family members of the victim.

Moore asked the family members to hold their questions, and he ended the press conference by asking the media to leave the room so police could speak with the family alone.

A Gazette reporter observed family members leaving the meeting with police, some of them in tears.

On Thursday morning, Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary said he was recently talking with a young law student about how homicide cases were not as frequent when he started 30 years ago.

That has changed.

“I was meeting with my deputy DA trying to figure out which of my attorneys doesn’t have a homicide case on their desk,” O’Leary said, “so I can assign them the volume of work that’s coming at them for the latest homicide.”

It’s the third killing reported in Janesville since late 2017, according to Gazette reports.

At the press conference, Moore declined to characterize the shooting death as a “domestic homicide” but said “it is related to a domestic relationship.”

Moore said the city has “relatively few” homicides—about two a year. He said about two-thirds of those killings are “domestic related.”

“Unfortunately, when we have these homicides, there are many, many people affected,” he said.

Moore said about 20 officers were assigned to handle the investigation and aftermath of the shooting, which he called “significant resources.”

Reporters Ashley McCallum and Jonah Beleckis contributed to this story.


Local
top story
Town Square Gran Prix to make another few laps around Janesville

JANESVILLE

The Tour of America’s Dairyland will return to Janesville this summer after what organizers considered a successful inaugural year.

The Janesville Town Square Gran Prix will be held Tuesday, June 25, and will be the sixth leg of the tour’s 11 races, which will run June 20-30.

Janesville hosted a leg of the tour for the first time last summer, welcoming 489 cyclists, 1,500 spectators and 125 volunteers on a rainy June day, according to a Gazette story.

Local organizer Paul Murphy was pleased by last year’s turnout and said the feedback he received from tour officials was overwhelmingly positive.

In preparing for the event’s second year, organizers had to address perhaps the largest obstacle facing downtown Janesville: the demolition of the Milwaukee Street bridge.

Murphy said city officials told him the bridge likely will not be open in time for the races.

The 2018 course started and ended at the corner of Main and Milwaukee streets and led racers over both the Court and Milwaukee street bridges in a rectangular shape through downtown.

To avoid bridge construction, this year’s course will take what cyclists consider a “dog bone” shape and will lead racers up and down Court Street.

The 2019 route will start and finish on Main Street in front of Olde Towne Mall and the Johnson Bank parking lot. Racers will make a loop around the block, turning right onto Milwaukee Street, Parker Drive and Court Street.

Racers will continue westbound on Court Street before taking a left turn onto Franklin Street and looping around the block with right turns onto McKinley, Jackson and Court streets. They will then ride eastbound on Court Street, finishing the race with a left turn onto Main Street.

This year’s route is unusual but not unheard of, Murphy said. Having a left turn on a route is atypical, but having two left turns is doubly so.

Murphy believes the route’s technical challenges will attract racers who are looking for something new.

Organizers have not yet started planning any community events in tandem with the race or collecting donations for monetary awards—called primes—given throughout the races, Murphy said.

The 2018 race raked in at least $15,000 in primes—an unusually large amount for a city of Janesville’s size. Murphy said racers appreciated that Janesville’s race offered equal prize money for men’s and women’s races.

Sign-up for races will not be available until February or March, Murphy said. Racers will be able to sign up online at tourof americasdairyland.com.


Anthony Wahl 

Janesville Craig's Sarah Gregg pulls the loose ball away from Oconomowoc's Elizabeth Cleary during the first half of their game in Janesville on Thursday, Jan. 24.


Obituaries and death notices for Jan. 25, 2019

Donald B. Brick

John M. Denninger

Jeremy Lee Jorgenson

Gregory “Greg” L. Olson

Darlene M. Raffone

Tyler C. Sather

Lyle W. Schinke

John A. Terpstra


AP
Rejection of plans spurs new talks on shutdown

WASHINGTON

A splintered Senate swatted down competing Democratic and Republican plans for ending the 34-day partial government shutdown Thursday, but the twin setbacks prompted a burst of bipartisan talks aimed at temporarily halting the longest-ever closure of federal agencies and the damage it’s inflicting across the country.

In the first serious exchange in weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., quickly called Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to his office to explore potential next steps for solving the vitriolic stalemate. Senators from both sides floated a plan to reopen agencies for three weeks and pay hundreds of thousands of beleaguered federal workers while bargainers hunt for a deal.

At the White House, President Donald Trump told reporters he would support “a reasonable agreement.” He suggested he would also want a “prorated down payment” for his long-sought border wall with Mexico but didn’t describe the term.

Trump said he has “other alternatives” for getting wall funding, an apparent reference to his disputed claim that he could declare a national emergency and fund the wall’s construction using other programs in the federal budget.

“At least we’re talking about it. That’s better than it was before,” McConnell told reporters in one of the most encouraging statements heard since the shutdown began Dec. 22.

Even so, it was unclear whether the flurry would produce results.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., whose relationship with Trump seems to sour daily, told reporters a “big” down payment would not be “a reasonable agreement.” Asked if she knew how much money Trump meant, Pelosi said, “I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about.”

Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said Democrats have made clear “that they will not support funding for the wall, prorated or otherwise.”

Contributing to the pressure on lawmakers to find a solution was the harsh reality confronting 800,000 federal workers, who on Friday face a second payday with no paychecks.

Underscoring the strains, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., angrily said on the Senate floor that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had forced a 2013 shutdown during which “people were killed” in Colorado from flooding and shuttered federal agencies couldn’t help local emergency workers. Moments earlier, Cruz accused Democrats of blocking a separate, doomed bill to pay Coast Guard personnel during this shutdown to score political points, adding later, “Just because you hate somebody doesn’t mean you should shut the government down.”

Thursday’s votes came after Vice President Mike Pence lunched privately with GOP senators, who told him they were itching for the standoff to end, participants said. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said their message to Pence was, “Find a way forward.”

In an embarrassment to Trump, the Democratic proposal got two more votes Thursday than the GOP plan, even though Republicans control the chamber 53-47. Six Republicans backed the Democratic plan, including freshman Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has clashed periodically with the president.

The Senate first rejected a Republican plan reopening the government through September and giving Trump the $5.7 billion he has demanded for building segments of that wall, a project that he had long promised Mexico would finance. The 50-47 vote for the measure fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to succeed.

Minutes later, senators voted 52-44 for a Democratic alternative that sought to open padlocked agencies through Feb. 8 with no wall money. That was eight votes short. It was aimed at giving bargainers time to seek an accord while getting paychecks to government workers who are working without pay or being forced to stay home.

Flustered lawmakers said Thursday’s roll calls could be a reality check that would prod the start of talks. Throughout, the two sides have issued mutually exclusive demands that have blocked negotiations from even starting: Trump has refused to reopen government until Congress gives him the wall money, and congressional Democrats have rejected bargaining until he reopens government.

Thursday’s votes could “teach us that the leaders are going to have to get together and figure out how to resolve this,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader. He added, “One way or another we’ve got to get out of this. This is no win for anybody.”

Initially, partisan potshots flowed freely.

Pelosi accused Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of a “’Let them eat cake’ kind of attitude” after he said on television that he didn’t understand why unpaid civil servants were resorting to homeless shelters for food. Even as Pelosi offered to meet the president “anytime,” Trump stood firm, tweeting, “Without a Wall it all doesn’t work.... We will not Cave!”

As the Senate debated the two dueling proposals, McConnell said the Democratic plan would let that party’s lawmakers “make political points and nothing else” because Trump wouldn’t sign it. He called Pelosi’s opposition “unreasonable” and said, “Senate Democrats are not obligated to go down with her ship.”

Schumer criticized the GOP plan for endorsing Trump’s proposal to keep the government closed until he gets what he wants.

“A vote for the president’s plan is an endorsement of government by extortion,” Schumer said. “If we let him do it today, he’ll do it tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.”

McConnell’s engagement was viewed as a constructive sign because he has a history of helping resolve partisan standoffs. For weeks, he let Trump and Democrats try reaching an accord and, until Thursday, had barred any votes on legislation Trump would not sign.

In consultation with their Senate counterparts, House Democrats were preparing a new border security package that could be rolled out today.

Despite their pledge to not negotiate until agencies reopened, their forthcoming proposal was essentially a counteroffer to Trump. Pelosi expressed “some optimism that things could break loose pretty soon” in a closed-door meeting with other Democrats on Wednesday evening, said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

The Democratic package was expected to include $5.7 billion, the same amount Trump wants for his wall, but it would be used instead for fencing, technology, personnel and other measures. In a plan the rejected Senate GOP plan mirrored, Trump on Saturday proposed to reopen government if he got his wall money. He also proposed to revamp immigration laws, including new restrictions on Central American minors seeking asylum in the U.S. and temporary protections for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

At a panel discussion held by House Democrats on the effects of the shutdown, union leaders and former Homeland Security officials said they worried about the long-term effects.

“We will be lucky to get everybody back on the job without a crisis to respond to,” said Tim Manning, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official.


AP
Out of touch? Trump aides struggle with shutdown empathy

NEW YORK

One White House aide mused that the shutdown was like a paid vacation for some furloughed workers. President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law said employees’ “little bit of pain” was worth it for the good of the country. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross questioned why cash-poor workers were using food banks instead of taking out loans.

The president himself says workers simply need to “make adjustments.”

With hundreds of thousands of federal workers going without pay during the monthlong partial government shutdown, Trump and his team, which includes the wealthiest Cabinet ever assembled, have struggled to deliver a full dose of empathy for those who are scraping to get by.

Ross set off howls when he was asked on CNBC on Thursday about reports that some of the 800,000 workers currently not receiving paychecks were going to homeless shelters to get food.

“Well, I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why,” he said. “The obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union, are, in effect, federally guaranteed. So the 30 days of pay that some people will be out ... there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it.”

In a subsequent interview with Bloomberg, Ross said he was “painfully aware” that workers were suffering hardships. He added that in his earlier remarks, he had been trying to let workers know that credit union loans were available for those “experiencing liquidity crises”—hardly the language of those living paycheck to paycheck.

It all contributed to perceptions that the Trump administration was out of touch with workers bearing the brunt of the shutdown impact.

“Is this the ‘Let them eat cake’ kind of attitude?” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Or call your father for money?” With that, the speaker evoked Marie Antoinette and took an indirect jab at Trump for inheriting family money to launch his business career.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Ross’ comments “reveal the administration’s callous indifference toward the federal workers it is treating as pawns.” He added: “Secretary Ross, they just can’t call their stock broker and ask them to sell some of their shares.”

Deeming air traffic controllers who are calling in sick “disappointing,” Ross said that workers will eventually get their pay and that there is no reason why a loan would not be a reasonable option for workers who have been staring at zeros on their pay statements.

“Now, true, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest, but the idea that it’s paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea,” said Ross, whose financial disclosure forms reveal $700 million in assets.

The president said he hadn’t seen Ross’s comments but added: “I do understand perhaps he should have said it differently.”

Trump said the commerce secretary’s point was that grocery stores, banks and other local entities were “working along” with federal employees to ease the shutdown’s impact. He added that Ross has “done a great job.”

Other Trump officials have been more effective in conveying their sympathies for those affected by the shutdown.

“Nobody, including myself, likes the hardship caused, the temporary hardship caused by the government shutdown,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Thursday. “I have young people on my staff, devoted young people. You know, when you’re 28 years old, you don’t save a lot. I get that, and I think a lot of people have to get through this.”

Trump, for his part, has repeatedly maintained, without providing evidence, that federal workers support the need for a border wall even if it means going without a paycheck. The president did not mention the furloughed workers during his Oval Office address to the nation earlier this month and has said that government employees “will make adjustments” to get by.

Asked Thursday what his message to furloughed workers was, Trump said: “I love them. I respect them. I really appreciate the great job they’re doing.” He continued to insist that “many of those people that are not getting paid are totally in favor of what we’re doing because they know the future of this country is dependent on having a strong border.”

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said early in the shutdown that some furloughed employees were, “in some sense, they’re better off” because people who were already taking vacation over the holidays ultimately would not be charged for their already-planned trip. Hassett has since said that his remarks were taken out of context.

Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and campaign aide, said this week that for the furloughed workers, “It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.”

On Thursday, she tried to explain the comment, insisting to Fox News that “I am incredibly empathetic towards anyone right now without a paycheck” and blaming the mainstream media for misrepresenting her message.