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Woman involved in Town of Tainter shooting pleads guilty to possession of methamphetamine

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A 36-year-old woman who was present when her boyfriend allegedly shot a Town of Tainter man in the leg May 27 has pleaded guilty to one felony count of possession of methamphetamine.

Kari L. Blank appeared in person in Dunn County Circuit Court on September 18 with her attorney, Richard Yonko, who communicated with the court by telephone, for a plea and sentencing hearing before Judge Rod Smeltzer.

Blank initially was charged with one felony count of possessing methamphetamine and one misdemeanor count of  failing to render aid and to report a crime.

Judge Smeltzer dismissed the misdemeanor and accepted Blank’s plea of guilty to possession of methamphetamine, withheld sentence, and placed Blank on 36 months of probation.

Judge Smeltzer also ordered Blank to pay $268 in court costs and a $250 DNA surcharge.

In addition, Judge Smeltzer ordered Blank to complete Pierce County Treatment Court if she is eligible and imposed and stayed a 180 day jail sentence.

Blank’s significant other, Shawn Harris Goplen, allegedly shot Bruce R. Sundstrom of rural Colfax May 27 and then fled. Law enforcement officers spent several days searching for Goplen and the woman who had been with him, Kari L. Blank.

Law enforcement officers were able to track Goplen’s cellular telephone to Rusk County and then to Barron County, and Goplen and Blank were apprehended at the Dollar General store in Rice Lake.

Blank was in the vehicle Goplen was driving during the pursuit by law enforcement and was found hiding in the bathroom at the Dollar General store.

According to the criminal complaint, Goplen has a Faribault, Minnesota, address.

At around 10:42 p.m. Sunday, May 27, two deputies from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to E5955 County Road D in the Town of Tainter after a 911 call reported Bruce Sundstrom, age 48, had been shot in the leg.

“Upon arrival at the residence, Sgt. Mayer observed that Sundstrom was indeed shot in the leg, but Sundstrom failed to provide much information except for screaming in pain. Sundstrom was transported by ambulance to Mayo Clinic hospital in Eau Claire,” the complaint states.

During the early morning hours of May 28, a search warrant was executed at E5955 County Road D, and investigators observed various drug paraphernalia throughout the residence as well as a gem pack baggie containing a white crystalized substance which later tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine.

Investigators observed, too, the chair where Sundstrom had likely been sitting when he was shot based on the blood on and around the chair. One of the investigators recovered a .45 caliber bullet from the chair, according to the complaint.

Goplen is charged with three felony counts of a convicted felon being in possession of a firearm, substantial battery intending bodily harm, and second degree recklessly endangering safety and a misdemeanor count of intentionally pointing a firearm at a person.

Judge Smeltzer set bail at $25,000 cash on June 1 and ordered Goplen to have no contact with Sundstrom or with Blank.

Goplen is scheduled for another court appearance November 12. 

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