Janesville police officers likely saved two lives Tuesday as they responded to a domestic-violence shooting on the south side, the police chief said.
The first life was that of Laurie Ruosch, who collapsed in the doorway of the home at of 1807 S. Osborne Ave. at 5:05 p.m., about 20 minutes after officers arrived.
She had been shot in the legs and was bleeding profusely.
Officers, not knowing if they would come under fire, approached the house and pulled her to safety, and one of them applied a tourniquet, Chief Dave Moore said.
Medical workers later told police Ruosch would have had about 10 minutes to live before officers intervened and would have died without their help, Moore said.
The second life was that of Brenda Ruosch, Laurie’s daughter.
Police believe Dennis J. McNeal, Laurie’s live-in boyfriend, had shot Laurie with a .22-caliber pistol during an argument and also hit the head of Laurie’s brother Steven Ruosch with the butt of a shotgun.
Steven exited the house at 4:43 p.m., about six minutes after officers arrived.
As officers were trying to determine who lived in the house, a neighbor told them of Laurie’s daughter, and officer Chad Woodman tried to contact Brenda Ruosch.
Woodman found a number and called several times.
Then he received a text from the number: “Who is this?”
It was Brenda’s 15-year-old developmentally delayed daughter, who would have been difficult to understand over the phone but who could text.
The girl told Woodman that her mother was injured and in a house down the street, at 1738 S. Osborne.
McNeal is suspected of leaving the home he shared with Laurie after the assaults there and going to Brenda’s house, where he struck her with a cast-iron candlestick.
Police were told Brenda -- who was disoriented by the blow and didn’t seem to understand how serious her injury was -- could have died without treatment.
McNeal, 57, was found on nearby Patton Place at 5:30 p.m. He was trying to get into cars and saying he was shot, said Lt. Terry Sheridan of the Janesville Police Department detectives.
McNeal had a cut on his hand, possibly from jumping fences.
A Rock County sheriff’s deputy and Janesville officer found him, and officers suspected he might be the gunman but couldn’t determine that right away, Sheridan said.
Police did not know Wednesday what started the argument. They were still interviewing witnesses after taking short statements Tuesday night.
McNeal has a drug history, and officers suspected from his odd behavior that he was under the influence, Sheridan said.
McNeal has an extensive criminal background that includes domestic-violence arrests, most in Dane County. Janesville police said they had few contacts with him, none for domestic violence.
Police didn’t know who owned the firearms, which were recovered after a police SWAT team entered the house shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.
McNeal was held on suspicion of first-degree reckless injury, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and two counts of aggravated battery. More charges are possible as the investigation continues.
Moore urged residents to contact police if they suspect domestic violence is happening.
“We will investigate,” he promised.