EM village hall burglary suspect allegedly traded guns for drugs

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND  —   A 24-year-old man identified as the suspect caught on videotape last November burglarizing the Elk Mound village hall and police department allegedly traded guns for drugs.

Elk Mound Police Chief Travis Hakes reported on the federal indictment of Darren J. Bishop at the Elk Mound Village Board’s March 4 meeting.

Bishop is from the Town of Estella in Chippewa County, and at the time of the Elk Mound village hall burglary was wanted in connection with other burglaries in Chippewa County and Rusk County.

Bishop was indicted by a federal grand jury in February as a felon in possession of a firearm, and that on November 22, 2014, the day he allegedly broke into the Elk Mound village hall, he was in possession of a .22 caliber revolver.

At least one of the weapons stolen from the police department in the Elk Mound village hall ended up in Mexico, Police Chief Hakes said.

Bishop also was indicted on federal charges because he transported stolen weapons over state lines, he said.

Federal agents suspect the firearms stolen from the Elk Mound village hall were traded for drugs, Police Chief Hakes said.

Some of the guns stolen from the Elk Mound police department were from old cases that happened years ago, Police Chief Hakes said.

One gun was from a 1994 case, he said, adding that one of his tasks as police chief has been to work on trying to locate records for those old cases to determine how the weapons should be disposed of.

If the United States Attorney’s office asks for a restitution amount, Police Chief Hakes wondered if Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer, should be contacted.

Hahn said she had received an e-mail stating she might be asked for a restitution amount but that she had not yet received a request for a restitution amount.

Police Chief Hakes also reported that the new gun safe and evidence lockers had arrived and had been installed in the police department.

The police chief’s desk, which was damaged during the break-in, has not yet been repaired, he said.

Hahn told village board members she had received the final invoice from Valley Builders for fixing one of the doors in the village hall that had been damaged during the burglary and that she had sent the information to the village’s insurance agent.

Hahn said she found out recently the claims person she had worked with at the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Mutual Insurance had left the position, and she was not sure if the old claims person would automatically turn over the records to the new claims person.

“Maybe I will have to start all over,” Hahn said, noting that the village has not yet received any reimbursements from the village’s insurance company.

If convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, Bishop faces a maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison.

A list of stolen items previously provided to the Elk Mound Village Board indicated the burglar took weapons and ammunition from the Elk Mound police department, including a .22 caliber revolver, a .357 caliber revolver, a .38 caliber revolver, and several boxes of ammunition.

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 totaled more than $15,000.

Bishop was arrested in Minnesota on December 1, 2014, for a theft at a Wal-Mart store and gave law enforcement officers a number of false names before he was correctly identified.