Tag Archives: killing

Idaho man pleads not guilty to hate crime in killing of gay man

An Idaho man charged with a federal hate crime in the beating death of a gay man pleaded not guilty in Boise’s U.S. District Court.

A March trial was set for 23-year-old Kelly Schneider, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in state court this week.

He was indicted earlier this month on the hate crime charge that accused him of attacking Steven Nelson last year because he was gay.

Few documents have been filed in the federal court case so far, but the details of the attack are outlined in the related state court case: Prosecutors say Schneider used an online personals ad on Backdoor.com to lure the 49-year-old Nelson to a remote recreation area near Lake Lowell in southwestern Idaho.

There Nelson was robbed, stripped, beaten and left.

Despite being critically injured, naked and barefoot, Nelson managed to walk to a home about a half-mile away for help. He was able to give police information before he died a few hours later.

Schneider pleaded guilty in state court to first-degree murder.

But Idaho’s state hate crime law doesn’t extend protections to people who are gay or lesbian, and so Schneider was transferred to federal custody to face the hate crime charge.

Schneider was one of four men charged in connection with the attack in Idaho’s state courts.

On Monday, Schneider pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, saying that he intended to rob Nelson but not kill him. He acknowledged that he kicked Nelson repeatedly and that his actions caused Nelson’s death.

In exchange for his guilty plea, state prosecutors agreed to drop robbery, theft and conspiracy charges. He now faces life in state prison, as well as a possible life sentence in federal prison if he is convicted on the federal hate crime charge.

The other three men in the state case — Jayson Woods, 28; Kevin R. Tracy, 21; and Daniel Henkel, 23 — are still awaiting trial on first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy charges.

Schneider has a lengthy criminal history in Idaho. But the only other violent crime on his record is an injury to an officer conviction that appears to stem from his time spent in the Canyon County jail in 2012.

Still, Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Chris Boyd said during Schneider’s state court arraignment last year that he believed Schneider had lured and beaten other victims many times before and the sheriff’s office said at the time they had received tips about others who may have been victimized in the same way.

However, no additional cases have been filed against Schneider in state court.

Wisconsin AG moves to block Brendan Dassey’s release

Wisconsin’s attorney general plans to file an emergency motion to block the conditional release of Steven Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, convicted of homicide in a case made famous by the Netflix series Making a Murderer.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement on Nov. 14 that he was filing the motion with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A federal judge ordered Dassey released while prosecutors appeal a ruling that overturned Dassey’s conviction in the 2005 slaying of photographer Teresa Halbach.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin had ruled in August that investigators tricked Dassey into confessing he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape, kill and mutilate Halbach in 2005.

The state has appealed that ruling.

The order to release the 27-year-old Dassey from prison, which also came from Duffin, was contingent on him meeting numerous conditions. He had until noon Tuesday to provide the federal probation and parole office with the address of where he planned to live.

Dassey was 16 when Halbach died. He’s now 27.

Prosecutors want Brendan Dassey to stay in prison

Prosecutors want a federal judge to keep a man convicted in a case profiled in the popular Making a Murderer Netflix series behind bars while they appeal his release.

A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators tricked Brendan Dassey into confessing that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005.

The judge ordered Dassey freed from prison unless prosecutors appealed.

Attorneys for the Wisconsin Justice Department filed a brief this week arguing Dassey should stay in prison because he’s a serious threat to public safety.

Dassey’s attorneys have asked the magistrate to release him while the state’s appeal is pending.

The brief from the state attorneys notes that the magistrate clearly said his ruling would be stayed if it was appealed.


Mother charged with using crucifix to kill daughter

A 49-year-old Oklahoma woman has been charged with first-degree murder on suspicion of killing her daughter whom she thought was possessed by the devil by jamming a crucifix down her throat and beating her, court records released this week showed.

Juanita Gomez was booked last week in the death of Geneva Gomez, whose body was found in an Oklahoma City home with a large cross on her chest, a probable cause affidavit said.

Local media said the daughter was 33 years old.

No lawyer was listed for Gomez in online jail records.

Police said Gomez confessed to the crime, telling officers she forced a crucifix and religious medallion down her daughter’s throat until blood came out.

“Juanita saw her daughter die and then placed her body in the shape of a cross,” the affidavit said.

Gomez was being held without bond at the Oklahoma County jail.

Animal rights advocates oppose expansion of badger cull

Animal rights advocates are condemning plans for a badger cull in England, which has added five kill zones, according to media reports today.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, in a press statement, said it strongly opposes plans for the cull to be extended across new zones of South Devon, North Devon, North Cornwall, South Herefordshire and West Dorset. This is in addition to existing cull zones in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset.

IFAW, in the statement, said it always has opposed the badger cull for being cruel and without scientific justification.

Leading scientists and wildlife experts also have stated opposition to the badger cull because it will not significantly reduce incidents of bovine TB.

Pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset were ruled ineffective and inhumane by an Independent Expert Panel.

Jordi Casamitjana at the IFAW said, “At IFAW, along with the rest of the animal protection movement, we remain resolute in our strong opposition to this cruel, irrational and unnecessary cull.

“In preparation for this year’s continued slaughter, those of us who want to see our British wildlife protected have been ensuring we will have more volunteers than ever joining the peaceful Wounded Badger Patrols in the cull areas so they can help any injured badgers in need, as well as bearing witness to what is happening in the countryside.”

The IFAW said the solution to bovine TB is not to kill badgers but to adopt a joined-up approach to tackle the problem. This includes better control of cattle movement, an improved testing regime and increased biosecurity on farms.

Farmers in Devon have seen a reduction in the incidence of bovine TB at the same rates as their neighbors in Somerset, but without the shooting of a single badger.

“There is no reliable evidence that the inhumane and ineffective badger cull has had a significant effect on reducing bovine TB in the pilot areas,” Casamitjana said. “Vaccinating badgers can also form part of the solution, but as this is a cattle problem ultimately the answer is better cattle testing and better control of cattle movement.”

Casamitjana continued, “Countless badgers have been killed unnecessarily and the Government should be listening to the scientific evidence rather than pressing ahead with plans to kill more British badgers.”

We are Orlando: Wisconsin mourns after Pulse shooting

On the opening evening of PrideFest Milwaukee 2014, joy swept through the Summerfest grounds as news that a federal judge had overturned the state law banning same-sex marriage spread quickly.

The final day of PrideFest this year brought very different emotions, as the community struggled to comprehend the calculated, hate-driven slaughter of at least 49 people in a gay dance club in Orlando, Florida.

It was the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

News of the massacre spread slowly through Milwaukee June 12. Some spectators at the annual Milwaukee Pride Parade in Walker’s Point learned about it from a banner carried by marchers representing the Democratic Party of Wisconsin that read, “Wis Dems Stand in Solidarity Orlando.”

As Milwaukee was winding up its Pride weekend, the bodies of the fallen were being removed from Pulse Orlando, where “Latin Night” was turned into a bloodbath when Omar Mateen, 29, entered the club near closing time and shot 102 revelers. The majority of those killed were gay Hispanic men.

Investigators and people who knew and worked with Mateen have described him as an angry, unhinged bigot who bragged about his ties to various Islamic terrorist groups. He was a familiar face at Pulse, and he’d carefully planned his attack in advance.


Law enforcement officials notified PrideFest organizers about the atrocity early June 12. Acting together, PrideFest staff and public safety officers worked to expand the Milwaukee Police Department’s presence at the event. Volunteers stepped up to increase the festival’s security staff.

Bereavement counselors were present to speak with people traumatized by the pervasive news about the attack. Festival organizers created a makeshift shrine on the lakefront where people could pay silent respect to the slain.

PrideFest also scheduled a 4 p.m. memorial service, where Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the rainbow-colored word “Proud,” joined others at the podium on the mainstage to deliver calls for unity.

But, primarily they urged Milwaukeeans not to succumb to fear.

“Today is a day to come out, to be seen and to be heard, in honor of those whose day was stolen from them,” said PrideFest communications director Michail Takach in a news release distributed before the festival grounds opened June 12. “Today is a day to remember where we started and why we started. Today is a day for solidarity.”


In the aftermath of the tragedy, LGBT Wisconsinites and their allies came together in vigils throughout the state. People gathered to express their grief, denounce hatred and call for gun control. Flags flew at half-staff in Milwaukee and other cities.

Milwaukee’s vigil took place June 13 outside the south entrance of Milwaukee City Hall, which was draped with a giant rainbow flag. Hundreds of people crowded the wide intersection at East Wells and North Water streets. Some held candles and others miniature rainbow flags or U.S. flags donated by Oak Creek-based Eder Flag Manufacturing Co., which has a distribution facility in the Orlando area.

Organizers of the vigil were Milwaukee Pride, Diverse & Resilient, Islamic Society of Milwaukee, UWM LGBT Resource Center, Cream City Foundation, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Planned Parenthood, FORGE, Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and several other groups.

Speaker Brenda Coley cautioned listeners “not to make this about Islam — it’s about homophobia through and through.” She urged her audience to bring people together and counter hate.

Karen Gotlzer, the executive director of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, also spoke, reminding the crowd that despite the legalization of same-sex marriage and other recent strides toward equality, what happened in Orlando “reminds us that we have very much to do.”

“This happened against a backdrop of anti-LGBT legislation that is sweeping the country,” Gotzler said, referring to the recent enactment of “bathroom bills” in some states, most famously in North Carolina. The laws ban transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. Wisconsin Republicans tried to introduce such a law in the last session of the Legislature and have vowed to do so again.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivered a speech that brought many listeners to tears. He began by thanking “each and every one of you for being here tonight to demonstrate and display the humanity we have in this city.”

“As Americans, when some of us are hurting, all of us are hurting,” he said. “It is important for us to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, with the Latino community. … That is why we are here tonight.

“There are those who try to divide us. They try to pit us against each other. We cannot allow that to happen. We are better than that.”

Barrett drew the most enthusiastic applause of the vigil when he denounced the easy access that people have to “weapons that were not designed for self-defense,” but rather were “designed to kill … dozens of people in a short amount of time.”

“We all know that we must do more than pray that the unjustified killings will be stopped,” he said. “We have to take action as well.”

In Madison, LGBT activist Callen Harty organized a June 12 candlelight vigil at the intersection of State Street and Capitol Square. About 100 people attended the memorial. Vigils were also held in Racine, Green Bay and Appleton.


Many of the state’s public officials issued statements condemning what President Barack Obama called both an act of hate and an act of terrorism. Notably, not one Republican state official who issued a statement mentioned the word “gay” or the term “LGBT,” which mirrored Republican responses on the national level.

Gov. Scott Walker was heavily criticized for issuing a generic, one-sentence response to the massacre.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and other Democrats called for people to come together across the lines that divide us. In a statement June 12 on her Facebook page, Baldwin wrote: “This was not only a horrific attack on the LGBT community, it was an attack on the freedoms we all hold dear. The question now for America is are we going to come together and stand united against hate, gun violence and terrorism? I understand it may not be easy, but I know we are better than this and it is past time to act together.”

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, took GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to task for claiming the shooting validated his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants — even though Mateen was born in the United States. Ortiz blasted Trump for using “this tragedy as a platform for Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism.”

“The young people in Pulse on Saturday night painted a beautiful picture of what our society could be: diverse, brown, queer, liberated, dancing, a world defined by love, not borders,” Neumann-Ortiz said in her statement.

At the end of the Milwaukee vigil, the giant bell atop city hall tolled 14 times, one for each occasion that the president has issued a statement responding to a mass killing in the United States.

Other than the somber sound of the bell, all that could be heard were seagulls and sobs.


Forest Service authorized to kill up to 103 spotted owls in national forest

Federal wildlife officials authorized the U.S. Forest Service to kill up to 103 threatened northern spotted owls in 14 timber sales slated for auction this spring in the Klamath National Forest, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Westside Fire Recovery Project will clear-cut 6,800 acres on slopes above the Klamath River where lightning fires in the summer of 2014 affected owl habitat reserves, CBD said in a news release.

“Natural fires restored the forest after decades of fire suppression and gave spotted owls a kitchen full of food,” said Jay Lininger, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Owls can thrive with fire, but they cannot survive clear-cutting after fire.”

In a biological opinion signed on late last week and released on Feb. 25, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that post-fire logging may “incidentally take” 74 adult owls and up to 12-29 juveniles, but will not jeopardize the continued existence of the forest raptor overall.  

The opinion is required by the federal Endangered Species Act before the Forest Service can formally offer the timber sales, which were initially advertised last year.  

More than 70 percent of the area proposed for logging overlaps Late-Successional Reserves designated by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan to secure old-growth forest habitat for crashing spotted owl populations and prevent their extinction.  

A recently published demographic study found sharp declines of spotted owl populations at an annual rate of nearly 4 percent range-wide from 1985 to 2013. The Klamath Mountains are thought to be the best hope for recovery of the species and a source for long-term repopulation of owls in the Cascades and Coast ranges.  

Despite the owl’s ongoing decline and the scientific recommendation in published literature that post-fire logging should not be conducted within owl territories, the biological opinion allows the Forest Service to remove habitat from up to 57 established activity areas where the owls nest. 

“Clear-cut logging at that scale in occupied habitat is a major setback for spotted owl recovery,” Lininger said. 

The Fish and Wildlife opinion signals for the first time since the regional forest plan went into effect that federal biologists openly disagree about impacts to spotted owl resulting from a post-fire logging project.    

Last fall Dr. Paul Henson, the top Fish and Wildlife official responsible for spotted owl recovery, commented to the Forest Service that logging in the Westside project should be “minimized” where owls remain after fire because large, dead trees will “greatly improve” the quality of forest habitat as it naturally recovers over time.

“In general, most scientists agree that salvage logging does not contribute positively to the ecological recovery of naturally disturbed forests,” Henson wrote. “It is important for (land managers) to seek ways to implement important fuel reduction work without over-utilizing salvage logging that can adversely affect the restoration of natural conditions.”  

Henson also cast doubt on the core rationale advanced by the Forest Service for the project, namely to reduce hazardous fuels and fire danger.

“In our experience many post-fire salvage projects tend to be more opportunistic than part of a larger-scale, proactive strategic planning effort to reduce fire spread and severity,” he wrote.

Foresters also recently wrapped up a separate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service stating that post-fire logging would harm threatened coho salmon by adding sedimentation to Grider and Walker creeks and reducing egg survival. 

On the Web…


Year in Review: Abortion rights, clinics under growing attacks in 2015

More than 300,000 Americans and a coalition of 140 progressive groups want the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the deadly shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as an act of domestic terrorism.

“We, the undersigned, urge the Department of Justice to investigate the recent attacks on reproductive-health clinics using all appropriate federal statutes, including domestic terrorism,” read an appeal sent in December to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Since the release of the first deceptively edited video from the Center for Medical Progress intended to vilify Planned Parenthood, and, by proxy, all abortion providers, anti-choice extremists have launched an unprecedented and multi-pronged assault against women’s reproductive rights.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America, UltraViolet, CREDO Action, Courage Campaign and others said the November shooting was politically motivated.

“People are dying, clinics are burning — and only a domestic terrorism investigation can help us find out who is driving this violence,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet. 

Thomas cited acts of violence at other clinics in five states in 2015 intended to terrorize women and “scare them away from accessing health care.”

Since 1977, there have been 11 murders and more than 220 bombings and arson attacks at abortion facilities in the United States, according to the National Abortion Foundation.

The request for investigation was made days before shooting suspect Robert Dear, accused of killing three people and injuring nine in the Colorado attack, stepped into a courtroom on Dec. 9 and declared himself a “warrior for the babies.”

Leaders of the progressive groups said politicians should be held accountable for the irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric that fuels such thinking and the resulting violence.

Planned Parenthood redoubled clinic security after the shooting and, in many states, the organization’s supporters marched on their capitols in displays of solidarity. A national day of solidarity was observed on Dec. 5. In Wisconsin, activists gathered at the Capitol on Dec. 10.

“While we’ve seen the continuation of hateful rhetoric toward Planned Parenthood by those who oppose our work, their voice clearly does not represent the majority,” said Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. “Our resolve to keep our doors open is stronger than the continued political rhetoric calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, because we care deeply for the people who rely on us for high-quality, nonjudgmental care.”

Throughout 2015, supporters of Planned Parenthood, which serves more than 60,000 women and men each year in Wisconsin, put up a defense against repeated GOP legislative efforts to cut funding and restrict access to health care in Wisconsin, other states and at the federal level.

In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected Wisconsin’s efforts to reinstate a restriction on access to abortion. The appeals panel affirmed the decision of U.S. District Judge William Conley that the state’s admitting privileges law, which requires physicians who prescribe so-called “morning after” pills and perform abortions, to be affiliated with a nearby hospital. Conley said the measure places an undue burden on women’s access to safe and legal abortions. The circuit court panel said the law does nothing to support patient safety.

“To those who go to shocking extremes to shut us down, know this: These doors stay open,” Huyck vowed.

IN 2015

Lawmakers in 16 states, including Wisconsin, passed nearly 50 bills restricting access to abortion in 2015, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Two state legislatures — Wisconsin’s and West Virginia’s — voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Five legislatures voted to lengthen waiting periods for abortions.

— L.N.

Talking about 2015

The most prominent theme to emerge among users on Dictionary.com was in the expanding and increasingly fluid nature of conversations about gender and sexuality, and also racial identity.

This led the online reference service to name “identity” the 2015 Word of the Year.

— Lisa Neff

Backlash over a diocese’s post about deer-hunting nun

A Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has removed the Facebook photo of a nun with a 10-point buck she bagged after the posting drew criticism by anti-hunting and animal rights activists.

Sister John Paul Bauer killed the deer on Nov. 30, the first day of hunting season in the state.

The photo posted on the Erie Diocese’s Facebook page showed her, in her nun’s habit, at the back of a pickup holding her trophy deer by the antlers.

Initial comments were largely positive, Anne-Marie Welsh, spokeswoman for the Erie Diocese, in northwestern Pennsylvania, said Monday. But as the page neared 1.5 million views, animal rights activists began taking offense, she said.

“We recognize that social media needs to be a two-way conversation, but unfortunately, many of those who oppose hunting posted vulgar comments, using profanity and even an obscene photograph,” Welsh said. “After careful consideration, we decided to delete the post due to its inflammatory nature.”

In a story about the hunt on the diocese’s website, Bauer said she had just said the rosary up in a tree stand when deer appeared, and she killed the 200-pound buck.

“After I realized I got the deer, I thanked God,” she said.

She said she views hunting as a spiritual endeavor and also a form of conservation, a way to help ensure that the deer population remains at a level that can be sustained by the land.

She had the buck butchered for sausage and steaks and shared it with two families. She also took the 16-inch rack to a taxidermist for mounting.

Bauer teaches at Elk County Catholic High School in St. Marys, a city about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, in the heart of deer and elk hunting country in Pennsylvania. She learned to shoot while in the Navy.

“In St. Marys, this is what you do. You go hunting. Everybody goes hunting,” she told television station WSEE in Erie.

She has killed three bucks and a bear during her 15-year hunting career.

“When you’re up on a tree stand, you’re still, you’re quiet. You listen. You watch as the frosty ground just becomes alive,” Bauer told the TV station. “It’s like creation all over.”

After guns wound and kill, bills pile up for victims and society

It was 1:30 a.m. on the first day of summer in 2014 and Claudiare Motley had just dropped off a friend after coming into town for his Milwaukee Tech High School 25-year class reunion. He was parked around North 63rd Street and West Capitol Drive, writing an email on his phone, as two cars pulled up.

Motley, then 43, knew “something was going on” as one of the vehicles turned in front of him and stopped. He put his phone into his pocket, shifted his car into gear. A teenager jumped from the car and tapped Motley’s window with a gun.

He accelerated as 15-year-old Nathan King fired, shattering glass. Motley rammed the car in front of him out of the way. He sped off and looked in the rearview mirror to see if they were chasing him.

“I just saw blood gushing out of my jaw,” Motley said.

After more than a year and six surgeries to repair his injuries, Motley estimates his out-of-pocket costs to be at least $80,000, and he expects more medical expenses as he continues to recover.

His efforts to get state victim’s compensation for his medical bills not covered by insurance have been unsuccessful so far. Motley’s credit has taken a hit, and he estimates lost earnings because of time he could not work in his family’s international law firm to be between $40,000 and $60,000.

Wisconsin taxpayers and health care providers also pay a high price for gun violence. In April, Mother Jones magazine pegged the cost of gun violence to Wisconsinites in 2012 at $2.9 billion in direct and indirect costs, or $508 for every person in the state.

Those figures include the financial and psychological tolls taken when a bullet forever alters the lives of victims and shooters alike. There are lost wages, stunted futures, shattered plans, life-changing trauma.

Firearms are a big factor in crime statewide. In 2014, guns were involved in 75 percent of murders, 56 percent of armed robberies, 27 percent of aggravated assaults and 3 percent of forcible rapes, according to the state Department of Justice.

Taxpayers pay all of the costs for police, prosecutors and incarceration — and sometimes to defend the accused — in gun crimes. And 79 percent of health care costs in Wisconsin associated with firearm-related injuries are paid by the public, according to a 2014 report using 2010 data by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

When he is released from prison, King — who is now paralyzed from the waist down because of a separate shooting days after he shot Motley — will probably face limited employment opportunities. Motley said he does not expect to see much of the $29,339 in court-ordered restitution.

State taxpayers paid about $1,500 for the 50 hours spent by Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Joy Hammond to prosecute King during the case that ended in September. They paid $1,537 for King’s attorney, Ann T. Bowe.

Residents of Wisconsin will spend about $405,000 to keep King in prison during his 12-and-a-half-year sentence for the Motley shooting and a later armed robbery in which King himself was shot. After he is released, King will be on extended supervision for seven and a half years at a cost to taxpayers of at least $21,000 in today’s dollars.

The tally for the Motley shooting — at least half a million dollars — is the cost of just one shooting in a city that this year has seen 691 people shot, including 131 killed, by firearms as of Nov. 15. That was a 77 percent increase in gun homicides from November 2014 and an 11 percent increase in nonfatal shootings.

Entire communities pay price

In addition to victims, entire communities face costs, including reduced property values in high-crime areas and increased costs to keep the public safe.

“It’s not just a problem for the individuals who are unlucky enough to get shot,” said Philip Cook, professor of public policy, economics and sociology at Duke University. “It’s a problem for whole communities. It’s a drag on economic development, it’s a drag on quality of life in a variety of ways.”

Violence was one of the things that prompted Motley to move out of his hometown of Milwaukee about eight years ago. He and his wife, Kimberley, and three children moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in part to escape what he calls a “cultural acceptance of violence” and a “proliferation of guns and illegal drugs.”

“You always hear the bad things that could happen, but you never really think … that you actually encounter something like that,” he said.

A report from the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy organization, suggests that a reduction in violent crime — including homicides, rapes and assaults — could have large impacts on urban areas. The report, which analyzed 2010 crime levels in Milwaukee and seven other cities, suggested a 10 percent reduction in homicides could boost residential real estate by $800 million in Milwaukee.

The report noted such a reduction could generate “large revenue gains” from property taxes, but it did not provide an estimate. Cutting homicides by 25 percent, it projected, could add $2 billion in increased housing values.

Experts say because the cost for each shooting is so high — often in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars — anything that could reduce gun violence would likely be worth the investment.

“Almost any reasonable policy that reduces crime will pay for itself,” said David Weimer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of political economy and expert in cost-benefit analysis.

But not everyone agrees on the best way to curb gun violence. Some have called for expanding background checks and for banning certain types of assault weapons.

Jeff Nass, executive director of Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators Inc., disagrees. He said any cost-benefit analysis should include the positive value that guns have when used for self-defense.

Nass, whose organization is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, argued that violence and gun issues are separate. He called for more prosecution of illegal gun possession and gun crimes.

“Bad violence is bad violence. Whether it’s done with a knife, a gun, whatever, it’s the person,” Nass said. “The people that we know are violent — that we know are in the criminal element — need to be held accountable.”

Gun violence drives up medical costs

The medical costs of shootings are often borne by taxpayers. Those costs usually begin with a trip to the hospital from the scene of the shooting.

Last year, paramedics from the Milwaukee Fire Department provided services to 297 shooting victims. The average cost was $1,300 per patient, or roughly $386,100.

Statewide, there were 349 hospitalizations and 742 emergency department visits because of firearm-related injuries in 2014, according to Department of Health Services data.

About half of emergency visits and 60 percent of hospitalizations are covered by Medicaid or Medicare, which are public insurance programs. The total amount public insurance programs paid for gun-related injuries in 2014 was about $6 million after negotiations between health care providers and the state and physician fees are factored in.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association, which provided information to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism used to reach this estimate, cautioned that it is “very rough.”

Dr. Stephen Hargarten, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said firearm injuries are “very, very expensive” to the public. Unlike knives and other methods of assault, firearms are more deadly and can leave significant long-term disabilities, he said.

“It’s costly to all of us because a significant portion of the people who are injured with bullets are those who are on Medicaid, Medicare or self pay,” said Hargarten, director of the college’s Injury Research Center.

Ted Miller, senior research scientist at the nonprofit Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, said there may be additional costs for mental health care for those impacted by violence. Miller is is an expert in the costs of gun violence and other injuries at the institute, which uses research to recommend ways to improve public safety and health. For every type of homicide, he said, somewhere between 1.5 and 2.4 family members and loved ones of the victims seek mental health care.

Often, those costs, which vary from person to person, also are covered through public insurance programs, said Dr. Marlene Melzer-Lange, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and program director of Project Ujima at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Project Ujima provides mental health services to both adults and child victims of violent crime.

A small percentage of shootings leave victims paralyzed or gravely injured. That can lead to being placed on the state’s long-term care programs, which cost taxpayers roughly $3,100 a month for nursing home care or $530 a month for in-home care.

Legal, law enforcement costs high

Another cost is police response. That can vary significantly, from sending two officers to a report of shots fired to shutting down several blocks as officers canvass an area looking for evidence in a homicide. The time it takes to conduct an investigation depends on the cooperation of victims and witnesses and other factors.

“It’s different for every shooting,” said Milwaukee Police Department Sgt. Tim Gauerke. “Every one of them is based on the circumstances on hand.”

In 2014, the department dispatched units to 6,622 reported calls of shots fired — an average of 18 calls a day. Those calls may have overlapped with the 3,632 incidents of gunshots detected by the department’s ShotSpotter detection system, which allows police to pinpoint locations where a firearm has been discharged in an area of 11 square miles in the city.

That system expanded last year with a one-time funding of $350,000 split by the state and Milwaukee, and now costs the city more than $320,000 a year.

Wisconsin’s largest city has the most homicides and nonfatal shootings in the state. According to the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, there were 75 firearm homicides and 583 nonfatal shooting victims in the city in 2014. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted more than 1,100 cases involving a firearm last year.

To support efforts this year, the state, the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County formed the Milwaukee Gun Violence Reduction Initiative. The Legislature’s budget-writing committee unanimously backed $366,800 for the state to hire two assistant attorneys general to work as special prosecutors for gun cases in Milwaukee. Democratic and Republican lawmakers called the program a “Band-Aid” solution.

On the other side of firearm-related cases, the State Public Defender’s Office provides legal representation to defendants who cannot afford an attorney.

Since 2012, the office has appointed private attorneys to represent defendants in 832 armed robbery cases, paying each an average of $1,415. (Armed robbery can include any type of weapon, including a gun.) That amounts to $1.2 million and does not include the cost of paying public defender staff who represented other armed robbery suspects.

After they are convicted, inmates cost Wisconsin taxpayers an average of $32,800 a year. The average cost to supervise an offender after release is about $2,800 annually.

Police caught King, the teenager who shot Motley, shortly after the June 21, 2014, after he committed another crime. In that incident, King attempted to steal a woman’s car. She pulled out a gun and shot him, leaving King paralyzed from the waist down.

Motley fought to ensure King was tried as an adult because he felt a sentence in the juvenile system would have been too light.

“I just felt that was not enough to teach a lesson to a person who was really violent,” he said.

Gun violence costs wide-ranging

It is not just victims and perpetrators who pay a high price. There are other costs — some of them hard to quantify.

“We don’t know some of the other less easily defined costs of the fact that people in rural areas won’t come to Milwaukee because they’re scared,” said Hargarten of the Medical College of Wisconsin. “There’s an impact on tourism. There’s an impact maybe on businesses trying to locate somewhere else because the perception is that Milwaukee is not very safe.”

Miller said another understudied cost is the impact of adverse childhood experiences — serious traumas, such as witnessing or being a victim of gun violence. Studies show those experiences can harm brain development and may increase future health problems, including heart disease, depression and drug abuse.

“I think a lot of us for a long time have said violence is a public health problem, and a lot of people didn’t really believe it,” said Melzer-Lange of Project Ujima. “Your health either as a witness or as a direct victim is going to be affected downstream.”

Schools also pay for gun violence. According to a 2013 article in the trade magazine Campus Safety, 88 percent of school districts nationwide made or planned to make security enhancements after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012.

There is also the “value of a statistical life.” Economists calculate that number by summing up what people are willing to pay for a small reduction in the probability of death. For example, if each person living in a community of 100,000 would pay $100 to reduce the number of deaths by one each year, the value of life would be $10 million.

The U.S. Department of Transportation puts the value at $9.4 million. This value is used nationwide by the department to analyze whether the cost of a certain potentially life-saving regulation or transportation improvement is worthwhile.

Miller puts the statistical value for one person injured by gun violence at $6.2 million. He said that “accounts for the pain, suffering and the lost quality of life for victims and their families.”

Victims can get some of their costs covered. Wisconsin’s Crime Victim Compensation Program caps the amount victims and their families can receive at $40,000 and only for out-of-pocket expenses. Qualifying families can also receive up to $1,000 to clean up a crime scene and $2,000 for a funeral. In all, $4.1 million was awarded in 2013-14 for 2,498 claims. The average claim paid was $3,205.

What can be done to curb violence?

Reducing gun violence requires a multi-faceted approach, experts say, with policy initiatives at the federal, state and local levels.

“If we can make those cities safer for gun violence, then they can develop and become places that thrive economically where businesses are investing in them, where employment becomes generally available,” said Cook of Duke.

Wisconsin lawmakers have offered some solutions. Gov. Scott Walker recently signed into law a bill that establishes mandatory minimum sentences for felons who commit certain violent crimes while illegally possessing a firearm.

State Democrats want to expand background checks for firearm purchases and ban semiautomatic weapons. A bill with bipartisan support would prevent those who commit multiple or violent misdemeanors from purchasing a firearm for 10 years, but those bills have not moved far in the Legislature.

During a Nov. 4 discussion before voting to pay for additional prosecutors for Milwaukee gun crimes, Democrats called for more action.

“Until we get to the bottom of addressing trauma and giving people hope by giving people opportunity through jobs, nothing’s going to change,” said Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.

Twenty-four Democratic U.S. senators and 114 House members are urging President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to require universal background checks nationally.

State Republican lawmakers during the committee discussion saw different answers to the gun violence problem.

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said the problem needs to be addressed on multiple fronts. The state already has “a lot of gun laws,” and he said some of the issues may not be solvable through public policy.

“What Milwaukee needs and what kids need in Milwaukee is not more district attorneys,” Kooyenga said. “We need more fathers, and the other part of it is we need more schools.”

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, called for more police officers and getting “habitual criminals” off the streets.

Motley agreed in part. He said repeat offenders, such as the 17-year-old who gave King the gun used to shoot him are part of “an epidemic that’s going on in the system.” Motley wants to find a way to prevent shootings and get guns off the streets, a focus that helps relieve some of the anger he feels at what happened to him.

“I’m not going to lay down. That’s not who I am,” Motley said. “And I’m just going to keep fighting.”

Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Emily Forman of 371 Productions and Kate Golden of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This report was produced in collaboration with Precious Lives, a two-year project investigating the problem of gun violence among young people, its causes and potential solutions in the Milwaukee area and statewide. Other partners in the project are 371 Productions, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Public Radio 89.7 WUWM and The Voice 860 AM WNOV.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s coverage is supported by The Joyce Foundation. The nonprofit Center (WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.