Daniel Erdman once thought the April 7, 2017, hours-long SWAT standoff in Whitewater he was involved in was a big misunderstanding.
He had ridden his bicycle near Whitewater Middle School with a BB gun pistol in his hip holster when he noticed people giving him funny looks, according to court documents.
It just so happened this was during a nationwide manhunt for Joseph Jakubowski, the Janesville man police at the time thought had stolen several guns and threatened to attack a school.
While the search for Jakubowski continued, the Whitewater School District was on a “heightened sense of awareness.”
After his plea and sentencing hearing Friday afternoon, Erdman said his thinking had changed: He now sees the events came after “a series of wrong decisions on my part.”
“I’m finally being able to pay for what I did,” Erdman told The Gazette. “Whether or not I was mentally stable at the time, I still caused this ruckus.”
Before Erdman was set to go to trial, he agreed to plead guilty to charges of burglary and disorderly conduct with use of a dangerous weapon. On Friday, he withdrew his plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
The agreement also included Erdman’s sentence: Five years of probation with one year of jail with work release privileges.
“You probably remember, it created quite a scare up there in Whitewater, in the community and specifically at the school,” Judge Kristine Drettwan told Erdman on Friday.
Charges of failing to comply with an officer and felony bail jumping connected to Erdman’s recent alleged theft from Menards in Janesville were dismissed and read into the record, per the plea agreement.
Police spoke with a relative of Erdman who said on the night of the standoff that Erdman had entered his home and took an iPad and a bottle of Jägermeister, according to the complaint.
Erdman said alcohol was a “common denominator” in all his previous arrests.
“I have this terrible problem with alcohol that’s not only genetic but it’s also been made worse by me because I never really realized the effect of my actions until a couple years ago,” he said. “I finally did make the decision to quit drinking because I can’t drink and not have an incident. I don’t want incidents. I just wanna have fun and be there for my family.”
After the hearing ended, Erdman, 33, of Whitewater, walked into the hallway and squatted to the ground, holding his arms open. His young daughter, one of his six children, ran to give him a hug.
“I have to focus more on my family and my life,” he said.
Erdman said he wants to focus on his music, too—anything to keep him busy and out of trouble.
Erdman has until Nov. 6 to report for his jail sentence. As part of his probation, he is not allowed to possess real or facsimile weapons.
Even if Erdman wasn’t a serious threat to harm a school, he still praised the police response to the incident.
“I do appreciate how swift everyone was,” he said. “I mean, if I really was a bad guy, you know, they did their job.”