Police Officer Craig Birkholz Fond du Lac Police Department Wisconsin EoW: Sunday, March 20, 2011

Photograph: Police Officer Craig BirkholzPatch image: Fond du Lac Police Department, Wisconsin

Police Officer Craig Birkholz
Fond du Lac Police Department
Wisconsin

End of Watch: Sunday, March 20, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 28
Tour of Duty: 2 years
Badge Number: 67

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Sunday, March 20, 2011
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Committed suicide

Officer Craig Birkholz was fatally shot after he and another officer responded to a home at approximately 6:00 am for an emergency call.
When Officer Birkholz arrived, he and the second officer approached the home. A suspect opened fire from the second floor of the home, striking Officer Birkholz, the other officer, and a K9.
The suspect committed suicide during a standoff that followed the shooting.
Officer Birkholz had served with the Fond du Lac Police Department for two years and had previously served combat tours of duty with the United States Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife.

Agency Contact Information
Fond du Lac Police Department
126 North Main Street
Fond du Lac, WI 54935
Phone: (920) 322-3700
Please contact the Fond du Lac Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

Information on this memorial is preliminary. A final determination on line of duty status may be made at a future date.

fire on police during a six-hour standoff at a house, killing one officer and critically wounding another, authorities said.

Police in Fond du Lac were called to the house around 6:30 a.m. Sunday to investigate a sexual assault. Shortly after they arrived, the suspect started shooting at the officers, a news release said.

SWAT teams surrounded the house during the standoff. Hours later, the suspect, James Cruckson, 30, was found dead inside the house from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. Authorities used armored vehicles and shields to evacuate residents from nearby homes during the standoff.

Police said Cruckson’s sister was in the house at the time. It wasn’t immediately clear whether she was injured during the standoff.

Deputy Chief Kevin Lemke said Cruckson had prior contacts with police, but he wouldn’t give details. Court records show he pleaded no contest and was found guilty of misdemeanor battery in 2009.

Police would not provide any further details about the shootings and said they went to the house while "continuing their investigation into a sexual assault."

Fond du Lac police Officer Craig Birkholz, 28, was shot in the upper chest and killed, police Chief Tony Barthuly said. K-9 Officer Ryan Williams was shot twice and was taken to an area hospital, where he was in critical condition, Barthuly said. Williams’ dog, Grendel, also was shot.

A third officer, Zach Schultz, was injured on a stairwell in the house. Police say Schultz was not injured by gunfire.

Birkholz had been with the Fond du Lac Police Department for two years and had served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army. He is survived by his wife, his parents and a brother.

In a statement, Gov. Scott Walker said Birkholz "made the ultimate sacrifice laying down his life while serving his community. While we may not have the words to comfort his loved ones, we assure them that Officer Birkholz’s state and community are eternally grateful for his heroic service."

Williams underwent surgery at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah and is expected to recover, said Lemke. His dog also required surgery.

Barthuly said Williams likely would have died had he not been wearing a protective vest. Birkholz was also wearing a vest, but it did not save him.

Dr. Raymond Georgen said during a news conference Sunday evening that Williams was shot once in the left shoulder and once in the right chest, just below the collarbone.

Police could not say whether any officers returned fire on Cruckson, citing the ongoing investigation. In a statement, police said the Wisconsin Department of Justice has 22 agents investigating.

Marty Neis, who lives nearby, said he thought the gunshots were exploding fireworks.

"I thought, ‘Who would be setting off fireworks at this time of the morning?’" he told The Reporter of Fond du Lac. He went outside and heard dozens of shots, then realized it was gunfire, he said.

Fond du Lac is located about 65 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

The mother of a man who killed a police officer and critically wounded another Sunday before killing himself said she tried to talk her son into surrendering during a standoff at his home.

Lynn Surita of Fond du Lac told local newspaper The Reporter that she called her son, James Cruckson, while he was holed up in his house. Surita said her son told her he had wounded an officer and that “he couldn’t come out of” it. She said she begged him to surrender, but that he was “unemotional … like he had given up all hope.”

Trauma medical director Dr. Raymond Georgen said Williams was shot once in the left shoulder and once in the right chest, just below the collarbone.

“It is miraculous that neither bullet went through the heart,” Georgen said.

Williams suffered significant lung damage, but his prospects for recovery are good, Georgen said.

Both Williams and Birkholz were wearing bullet-proof vests, said Police Chief Tony Barthuly.

“If Williams hadn’t been wearing a vest, I have no doubt he would have been killed as well,” Barthuly said. Birkholz was struck in the upper chest in an area not covered by the vest.

Williams’ police dog, Grendel, was also shot and wounded.

 

Officer Ryan Williams

Officer Ryan Williams

Fond du Lac, Wis. (WHBL-Learfield) – Almost two dozen state Justice agents are investigating the murder of a Fond du Lac police officer and the wounding of another by a man who later killed himself. It happened yesterday morning when 30-year-old James Cruckson sprayed bullets from his home as police were responding to a report of a sexual assault. 28-year-old officer Craig Birkholz was shot in the chest and died at the scene. He’s an Army veteran who survived two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But after two years on the Fond du Lac police force, he couldn’t survive Cruckson – whom according to a Journal Sentinel report, told people at a tavern he was going to shoot somebody because he was having troubles with his girlfriend. But authorities have not said anything about a motive. 33-year-old Ryan Williams, the Fond du Lac Police K-9 officer, was shot twice and was in critical condition at last word. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery. His K-9 Grendel was also shot and wounded. Another officer, Zachary Schultz, had minor injuries while falling down a flight of stairs at the scene. He was treated at a hospital and later released. Officials said Cruckson shot himself during a six-hour standoff which ended around noon.
Officers removed Cruckson’s sister while firing an undisclosed number of shots into the house. There was also a report of a six-year-old girl in the house – but she was later found safe at a nearby home. SWAT team members later sprayed tear gas in the house about 45 minutes before they went in. During the early spate of gunfire, seven squad cars and two ambulances were hit – and some of those vehicles were occupied. Fond du Lac Police Chief Tony Barthuly said Birkholz and Williams were wearing bullet-proof vests – and Williams would have also died had he not been wearing his. The chief said Schultz was one of the heroes at the scene, and there were certainly others. He says they’ll all be honored once the investigation is complete. Governor Scott Walker said officer Birkholz made the ultimate sacrifice, and his state and community are quote, “eternally grateful for his heroic service.” Officers removed Cruckson’s sister while firing an undisclosed number of shots into the house. There was also a report of a six-year-old girl in the house – but she was later found safe at a nearby home. SWAT team members later sprayed tear gas in the house about 45 minutes before they went in. During the early spate of gunfire, seven squad cars and two ambulances were hit – and some of those vehicles were occupied. Fond du Lac Police Chief Tony Barthuly said Birkholz and Williams were wearing bullet-proof vests – and Williams would have also died had he not been wearing his. The chief said Schultz was one of the heroes at the scene, and there were certainly others. He says they’ll all be honored once the investigation is complete. Governor Scott Walker said officer Birkholz made the ultimate sacrifice, and his state and community are quote, “eternally grateful for his heroic service.”

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