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

Play Video
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

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - If you want to get an good understanding of what makes Eagle River tick in the winter time, the first stop should be the ice castle.

At a structure made of thousands of blocks of ice, about 55 Eagle River Elementary fourth-grade students learned how the decades-old idea comes together each year.

"They're actually a little warm because this is a heat wave for us," teacher Nicole Musial said of her students.  "These are the future members of our community. When they grow up, they re going to do something incredible."

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Lincoln County Sheriff Jeff Jaeger announced his retirement Wednesday. 

But he wants to remind everyone he's still got a year of hard work left. 

Jaeger said the decision wasn't an easy one after being in law enforcement for 38 years and sheriff for the last 11 years. 

"There's some sad feelings, if you will. I've been in the business for 38 years, working with a wonderful group of people for a great community. Just so blessed to have the support that we do in this area," said Jaeger. 

+ Read More

Play Video

THREE LAKES - A public library will do just about anything to help out its loyal patrons. But what happens when the library needs help?

The Demmer Memorial Library in Three Lakes needs help storing books during an upcoming renovation. Over 3,000 books need to be cleared out of the library during the construction period and library card holders will get the chance to check out up to 100 books for an entire year.

The idea of book babysitting made perfect sense to library director, Erica Brewster.

"If we could get a hundred people to check out 100 books, that would be a third of our collection that we wouldn't have to physically pickup and move and put in a new location," said Brewster. 

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The 2012 and 2017 World Snowmobile Derby Champion and Tomahawk native plans to use his fame to give back.

Nick Van Strydonk will give away his racing helmet, jacket and pants in a raffle.

Each ticket is $5.00 and he hopes to sell enough to send three members of Tomahawk's VFW to this year's honor flight.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Packer fans might not recognize his name, but they've likely seen his photographs over the years. 

Vernon Biever first started photographing the Packers in 1941 as a freelancer, but it wasn't until 1946 that he became the team photographer. 

"He basically created a job for himself as the Packers' team photographer and just got to live his passion," said ArtStart Development Director Melinda Childs. 

+ Read More

Play Video

THREE LAKES - A new program at the Three Lakes School District gives students a chance to test drive their future careers.
The mentorship program lets students shadow a professional for a day.
Juniors and seniors can work with professionals in fields they're interested in.
Senior Maggie Servent is one of the ten students in the program.

She shadowed a pharmacist in Eagle River.
" I'm a little more at ease knowing that this is definitely something I'm going to enjoy once I get out into the real world and have this job," said Servent. 

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - The World Championship Derby started as a small oval racetrack on Dollar Lake.

The race began back in 1964 thanks to Chanticleer Inn's John and Betty Alward.

They wanted a way to keep business up during the slow winter season for themselves and fellow resort owners.

Their son Jake still runs the inn and remembers the excitement behind the "newness" of the sport.

"Every factory wanted their machine first! Money was not the object… it was getting the right machine the right equipment….The right this and that. People flew to Minneapolis to get and engine or a part!" says Alward.

The 55th World Championship Derby is this weekend.

+ Read More
+ More Local News

Click Here