By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Darren J. Bishop, the 23-year-old man suspected of breaking into the Elk Mound Village Hall in the early morning hours of November 22, was arrested in Minnesota late in the afternoon or early evening of December 1.
Bishop was arrested in connection with a theft at a Wal-Mart store in Minnesota and gave law enforcement officers a number of false names before he was correctly identified, said Marshall Multhauf, sergeant of investigations with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, during a telephone call December 4.
Bishop also is wanted in Rusk and Chippewa counties in connection with other burglaries.
Sergeant Multhauf said he was 99 percent certain that Bishop was the suspect they were looking for in connection with the Elk Mound village hall burglary.
Physical DNA evidence left at the Elk Mound Police Department will most likely link Bishop with the break-in, he said.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department sent out an initial release on November 22 with a still photo from the village hall’s security videotape showing the suspect wearing a stocking cap and a hooded jacket from O’Neill Creek Campground, with the lower part of his face covered.
Bishop was later identified in conjunction with information from the Chippewa County and Rusk County sheriff’s departments, along with the tips provided by the public.
The burglary suspect left blood splattered around inside the building that will provide DNA evidence that will help identify the person, said Andy Peterson, village president, at the Elk Mound Village Board’s December 3 meeting.
Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer, reported to the village board that security camera footage of the break-in at the village hall indicated that the suspect had been in the building for more than an hour.
Hahn said she had come to the village hall after getting the mail — shortly after the burglary — and the first thing she noticed on the floor just inside the door was some file folders and bullets.
“He could have done a lot more damage,” Hahn said, noting that the burglary suspect had been rummaging around in the room where the village’s server computer is located.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Peterson said.
The burglary suspect did not take a rifle with a scope and a shotgun that were in the police department, he said.
A list of stolen items provided to the village board indicated, however, that the burglar did take weapons and ammunition, including a .22 caliber revolver, a .357 caliber revolver, a .38 caliber revolver, and several boxes of ammunition.
Some of the items that were taken from the police department were evidence in pending cases, Sergeant Multhauf said.
The fact that Hahn discovered the burglary right away on Saturday morning, instead of, say, two days later on Monday morning, helped law enforcement officials get a better start on the investigation, he noted.
All together, clean up of the village hall and police department, repairs to the building, upgrades to the building’s security systems, and the items stolen during the break-in total more than $15,000.
Other items that were taken during the break-in include a paintball gun, a BB pistol, an air gun, a police baton with a holster, a portable radio and charging base, and alcohol Intoximeters.
Restoration will include rekeying the exterior and interior door locks, repairing doors, replacing a window, replacing the police chief’s desk, and replacing evidence lockers with a security cabinet.
The Elk Mound Village Board also discussed adding another security camera to the building so that village employees will have a better view of the door while they are working in the building.
Security cameras can help identify someone who has broken into the building, but the village hall should have an alarm system that will alert village officials and law enforcement at the time of the break-in, said Tom Gilbert, village trustee.
In addition to alerting authorities, the alarm system will blare a signal when someone has breached the building, and the blaring horn or siren will encourage the person to leave immediately, he said.
Pat McDougall, village trustee, agreed that the issue is how to stop someone from burglarizing the building once they have gained access to the building.
Hahn said she had contacted 24-7 Telcom out of Menomonie about a security system for the building.
Gilbert said he could provide contact information as well for the security company that provides a security system for Gilbert’s Gun Exchange in Elk Mound.
Village board members agreed that the village board’s property and finance committee should meet about the security systems at 6 p.m. prior to the next village board meeting on December 17.
In a related matter, the Elk Mound Village Board approved door repair to be completed by Valley Builders at a cost not to exceed $2,924.
The Elk Mound Village Board also approved lighting upgrades outside the village hall in the amount of $1,200 with Lew Electric. The lights will switch from a lower illumination to a higher illumination when motion is detected.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Approved a 2015 general fund budget of $593,709, representing a 22.41 percent decrease over the 2014 budget of $765,234.
• Approved a water and sewer budget for 2015 of $301,353, representing a 7.29 percent decrease over the 2014 budget of $325,037.