Family, police react to hours-long standoff in Medford Submitted: 01/18/2018

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MEDFORD - Wednesday night, police spent nearly five hours trying to talk down a man who had a gun and barricaded himself inside of a home in Medford.

Jake Wendt, 31, recently moved to Medford from Rhinelander. He was living with his girlfriend and her child.

Police went to that home just before 5 p.m. after receiving a call about a man with a gun. According to a press release, the caller said a man (who turned out to be Wendt) had a handgun with two women and a child inside a home on Medford's east side.

"Officers approached and immediately heard gunfire. Reports are up towards eight shots fired," said Taylor County Chief Deputy Larry Woebbeking.

Police believed Wendt was inside the home on Allman Ave. with a .38-caliber gun. Soon after arriving, police surrounded the home.

"That's to keep the suspect in one place so that we know where he is in any case like that. In general, you don't want an armed person now mobile," said Woebbeking.

For more than four hours, Nicole Salas, Wendt's younger sister who lives in Rhinelander, and her husband Dominic were on the phone with Wendt and police. The Salas' recorded the conversation and shared those recordings with Newswatch 12.

In the recordings you can hear Dominic telling Wendt to not do anything "stupid." Dominic goes on to ask Wendt if he wants "to be alive to see [his] nieces grow up." Wendt says yes. Towards the end of the standoff, Nicole Salas tells Wendt to step outside with his hands in the air.

"He was surrounded. He was cornered. They had him cornered to the point where, I mean, he knew he had an army outside waiting for him and he's fearing for his own life," said Salas.

Salas says Wendt struggles with addiction and was under the influence at the time.

"The situation that's going on makes him look like a monster and my brother's not a monster. My brother cares deeply about his family," said Salas.

The Salas' say police should have handled the situation differently because of Wendt's mental state.

"What really should have happened is he should have been sent to a hospital to be analyzed and I believe right here they would have taken him into a hospital instead of throwing him in a jail cell," said Salas.

The Salas' said they told police they could drive to Medford from Rhinelander to help at the scene.
"Certainly, we would prefer not to have emotions get in the way when we're trying to negotiate somebody who is already armed, intoxicated, [and] agitated," said Woebbeking.

Woebbeking says families often think they can help a situation like this. But unfortunately, he knows that's not always possible.

"We would not allow anybody further into harm's way because all we're doing is providing more of an issue even if it's family or a loved one who thinks they can talk to that person, which they often think that. We know from past experience that that's not always the case," said Woebbeking.

Wendt is being held on a $30,000 cash bond. He's facing felony charges. 

Story By: Allie Herrera

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