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Prohibited from possessing a firearm, Middleton shooter had amassed huge cache of weapon parts and ammunition

September 22, 2018

The 43-year-old man who opened fire at a Middleton business on Wednesday, seriously injuring three people before being fatally wounded by police in a shootout, had assembled a huge cache of weapon parts and ammunition at his house on Madison’s Far West Side despite not being able to legally possess a weapon, according to a search warrant filing Friday in Dane County Circuit Court.

One of Anthony Y. Tong’s victims in the shooting at WTS Paradigm sustained 10 gunshot wounds, according to the search warrant filed by the state Division of Criminal Investigation. The victim has been interviewed by a DCI agent.

One of the three victims was in fair condition and two were in good condition Friday, a UW Hospital spokesman said. A fourth victim was grazed by a bullet.

The Middleton Police Department and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office on Friday released the names of the two officers and two deputies who fired at Tong, who later died at UW Hospital.

Deputy David Labrecht, a 21-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office currently assigned to the traffic team, and Deputy Matthew Earll, an 11-year veteran, both fired at Tong inside WTS Paradigm.

Officer Richard O’Connor, a 20-year veteran of the Middleton Police Department assigned to the day shift patrol, and Officer Tyler Loether, a six-year veteran assigned to Middleton High School as a school resource officer, also fired at Tong.

All four are on paid leave until an investigation is completed and the district attorney makes a decision on whether to file charges.

Also on Friday, WTS Paradigm said in a statement that Tong was in good standing with the company and was not facing any disciplinary action.

The search of Tong’s house at 9738 Gilded Cider Blvd. following a court-authorized, no-knock entry revealed a cache that included six ammo storage cans filled with nearly 100 boxes of ammunition of varying calibers; black powder guns, a pellet gun and a knife; three ammunition belts, multiple magazines, scopes and a silencer; ballistic vests and helmet; and more than a dozen computers. The items were scattered in three bedrooms, the basement and living room.

Medications, pill bottles, a commitment order and an emergency contact list also were found, according to the search warrant.

It’s not clear how Tong was able to acquire the munitions since he has not been able to legally possess a weapon since his license to carry a concealed weapon was revoked after a mental health incident in South Dakota more than a decade ago.

In an affidavit filed in that incident, an officer reported that on Aug. 11, 2004, Tong had disabled a fire alarm in his apartment building and was “acting very odd” toward Sioux Falls police.

Officers searching his Sioux Falls apartment also discovered a large cache of weapons and ammunition and found that Tong had disconnected the fire alarm, ceiling fan and other devices in the apartment because he believed people in the apartment below were eavesdropping on him.

“Officers felt that the defendant was acting paranoid and that defendant was delusional,” the affidavit states. “Defendant made statements that there were people at work that were talking bad about him, but would not elaborate.”

Minnehaha County, South Dakota, Deputy Sheriff Seamus Walsh said there was no record of any criminal charges against or warrants for Tong, and that he had never been booked into the county jail, at least as far back as February 2004, when the agency switched to its current record-keeping system.

Middleton Police Chief Charles Foulke cautioned that Tong’s mental health history doesn’t mean mental illness had anything to do with why Tong opened fire at WTS Paradigm, where he worked.

“As of now, a motive has not been determined,” he said. “We are nowhere near saying that this is a mental health issue.”

But Tong was “ineligible to purchase a firearm,” he said.

The 2004 incident in South Dakota led to the revocation of his concealed-carry license, which he had held since 2001, according to the affidavit.

Foulke said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is having difficulty determining where Tong got the gun he used in the shooting, which was recovered by investigators. He said the serial number was intact but there were other unspecified “roadblocks” in determining its origin.

Foulke said that two of the people Tong shot, a man and a woman, were doing “quite well” but the third victim, a man, “has a long row to hoe.”

He said all victims have requested their names not be released. He said he did not know their ages.

Middleton police officers arrived at the shooting site two minutes after the department received 911 calls about an active shooter. Witnesses had ID’d Tong as the shooter prior to the officers’ arrival.

Names and other information about the four law enforcement officers who fired on Tong — two from Middleton and two from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office — were expected to be released Friday afternoon, Foulke said, although he said one of the officers had eight years on the job and another had 20.

He said it could be more than a month before Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne determines whether any of the officers face any liability in shooting Tong.

WTS Paradigm has about 140 employees, Foulke said, about 100 of whom work at the Middleton office. About 500 people work at the complex of offices where the company is located.

Tong moved to the Madison area in March of last year, “I suspect for the job,” Foulke said.

According to the search warrant:

Investigators initially thought Tong lived in a multi-resident building in the 300 block of Prairie Heights Drive in Verona, based on Tong’s vehicle registration records kept by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. A property manager there told a Verona police officer that Tong moved out on July 31 and gave the officer a forwarding address in Middleton for Tong that turned out to be a mailbox at a UPS store.

The officer informed investigators that the property manager told him that Tong was building a home through Veridian Homes. The officer then called Veridian Homes and an employee there told him that Tong had purchased the house on Gilded Cider Boulevard.

Madison property records indicate Tong purchased his house on Madison’s Far West Side in July for $287,932.

Foulke said Tong’s family is all out of state, and that Tong was originally from California.

The Wisconsin State Journal has made multiple attempts to contact Tong’s family and any friends in Wisconsin and several other states. One neighbor said Thursday he had only seen Tong mowing his lawn and his wife had spoken to him briefly when their mail was mixed up.

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