Appleton, WI – A veteran Appleton firefighter was killed and a police officer and female bystander were wounded during at altercation at Valley Transit Center on Wednesday night.
The incident began at approximately 5:30 p.m., when police and emergency medical personnel responded to the area for a report of a 47-year-old man who was believed to be having a seizure, Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
When the man experiencing the alleged medical emergency arrived at the transit center, first responders immediately began treating him.
But at some point, the unnamed man got off of the bus, and began walking down the street towards the city library, Chief Thomas said.
He then pulled out a gun and opened fire, hitting Appleton Firefighter Mitchell Lundgaard, an unnamed Appleton police officer, and an unnamed female.
The gunman was also struck by gunfire during the incident.
Firefighter Lundgaard, a 14-year department veteran, was killed in the attack.
The wounded police officer was treated and released from the hospital, and the wounded female citizen is hospitalized in stable condition.
The gunman was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Chief Thomas said that no further information will be released until the investigation is complete and has been reviewed by the district attorney’s office.
Witnesses said that the shooting unfolded rapidly, and estimated that the gunman fired off between six to 12 rounds before he was subdued, WBAY reported.
“I looked up I heard a POW, and I thought it was the lawnmower firing.” Said Tori Mourning, who lives across the street from the transit station. “I heard it again. I looked up because you could see the bus stop from my bedroom window, looked at the tree, I saw the guy shoot a female and she went down, and another shot was fired and there was another male and he went down, and I saw the shooter flee.”
Tropical Smoothie Café manager Jason Hammond estimated that as many as 20 gunshots rang out during the shootout, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
“There were people hunkered down by the church over here, hiding from the shooting,” he said. “It was crazy.”
Green Bay police are leading the ongoing investigation into the fatal altercation.
Firefighter Lundgaard joined the Appleton Fire Department (AFD) in 2005, and served his department as a firefighter inspector and relief driver engineer, Appleton Fire Chief Jeremy Hanson said during the press conference.
“Mitch was married and a father of three young kids,” an emotional Chief Hanson said. “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”
He thanked the community and area first responders for standing behind the department in the wake of their loss.
“The outpouring of support in this difficult time has been tremendous and greatly appreciated,” Chief Hanson said.
Surrounding agencies flooded the area with assistance and support, Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna said.
“This is just a reminder of the great place that we live…and how much we take care of each other,” Hanna noted. “We’re going to honor the memory of our brother.”
A silent procession of flashing emergency vehicles escorted Firefighter Lundgaard’s body for 120 miles from the medical examiner’s office in Milwaukee to an Appleton funeral chapel on Thursday afternoon, WPR reported.
"We just think that they need our support," Jeanne Vanden Voogaard told the Green Bay Press Gazette as she waited with her four-year-old granddaughter for Firefighter Lundgaard’s procession to pass by. "They’re always being judged on what they do and we feel they do a lot of good for us.”
A vigil has also been planned for Thursday night, city leaders said.