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Eau Claire man accused of stealing guns in Town of Spring Brook burglary bound over for trial

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A Dunn County judge has found probable cause concerning a 29-year-old Eau Claire man charged in connection with stealing guns during a burglary at an Elk Mound address and has ordered him bound over for trial.

Patrick E. Nolan, along with his attorney, Shelly Tomtschik, appeared before Judge Rod Smeltzer May 4 for a preliminary hearing.

Nolan is charged with one felony count of burglary/arming himself with a dangerous weapon.

According to the criminal complaint, a Dunn County deputy was dispatched to a residence in the Town of Spring Brook June 25, 2017, on a report of a burglary.

The homeowner said he and his wife had been away on vacation, and when they returned June 25, the man noticed his son’s knife collection was missing, along with three firearms and two firearms cases.

The man thought the missing items were a prank, but when he called his friends, none of them confessed to taking the items.

The homeowner said the garage door had been closed while they were gone, but the service doors were not locked. The firearms had been on a work bench, and the knife collection had been on the floor.

The guns that were stolen included a Model 70 Winchester (estimated value of $700); a black 12-gauge Remington shotgun ($350); and a 20-gauge Tri-Star with a 26-inch barrel ($350). The Winchester and the 12-gauge had been in cases, and the cases were valued at $55, according to the complaint.

The homeowner did not know of any suspects but pointed out to the deputy his son’s friends are “a rougher crowd.”

According to the complaint, Nolan told the homeowner’s son he had pawned the guns at General Coin and Gun Exchange in Eau Claire.

A Dunn County sheriff’s department investigator contacted the General Coin and Gun Exchange and asked if Nolan had been in recently to pawn guns, and a representative for the shop said Nolan had pawned three guns on Saturday, June 24, 2017, and had signed a bill of sale and checked the box, “is the article/firearm totally owned by you,” the complaint states.

Nolan was identified by a Wisconsin identification card.

The deputy who initially responded to the complaint contacted the General Coin and Gun Exchange, and a representative for the shop showed him the three firearms Nolan had pawned, which matched the type and description of the firearms taken from the Town of Spring Brook residence.

The deputy reviewed security footage from General Coin and Gun Exchange and observed a man believed to be Nolan, wearing a camouflage coat with a hat, had entered the store and turned over the three firearms to an employee at General Coin and Gun Exchange.

An Eau Claire County investigator reported Nolan had sold “numerous” items to General Coin and Gun Exchange that had been stolen in Dunn County, according to the complaint.

Burglary/arming self with a dangerous weapon is a Class E felony that, upon conviction, carries a penalty of a fine of up to $50,000 and/or a prison term of up to 15 years.

Nolan is scheduled to be arraigned in Dunn County Circuit Court June 18.