We’re finally learning details about the shooting in Appleton, Wisconsin in May that left a firefighter dead and an officer shot. And it’s all becoming clear why the details have seemingly been hidden in the mainstream media.
But now that body camera footage has been released in what ended as an officer-involved shooting, it’s opening up a slew of questions.
Last month, Appleton firefighter Mitch Lundgaard was shot and killed by 47-year-old Ruben Houston.
Houston was being treated by medical personnel after he was found unresponsive on a bus and believed to have suffered an overdose.
Here’s what went down.
They gave Houston Narcan and took him off the bus, but nobody checked him for weapons before treating him. When he regained consciousness, he refused to be patted down by officers. The incident was all caught on camera.
Within moments, he became irate. When officers asked him what was on the right side of his hip, Houston pulled out a gun from a snap holster under his shirt, chambered a round and began shooting.
Police weren’t able to react in time and ran around the other side of the bus. Eventually they were able to return fire, but it wasn’t until Houston succeeded in shooting Lundgaard and used a bystander as a human shield.
The entire shootout lasted only 30 seconds and a total of 24 shots were fired.
The 36-year-old Appleton firefighter was shot in the upper back by Houston and later died at a hospital.
Houston was shot by the officers – he also later died at a hospital.
One of Houston’s shots hit Appleton police officer Paul Christensen, who continued to respond to the situation before he was taken to the hospital. He has since been released.
On Thursday, Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis made an announcement that the officers’ use of deadly force was justified.
“Mitch was married and a father of three young kids. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time,” said Appleton Fire Chief Jeremy Hansen.
The day after the shooting, police and fire vehicles escorted Lundgaard’s body down College Ave and to Brettschneider-Trettin-Nickel Funeral Chapel.
Firefighters from across Milwaukee lined the streets saluting a fallen Appleton firefighter, as his body arrived at the medical examiners office Thursday morning. The firefighter was gunned down while on the job Wednesday. @WBAY pic.twitter.com/1ohj67nMtS
— Steven Radmer (@Steven_R) May 16, 2019
Residents lined area streets to pay their respects.
Lights flashed, but no sirens rang out – the journey was silent.
According to the Appleton Fire Department, the firefighter who was killed had served with the department for 14 years.
Overnight after the shooting, a procession was held in Milwaukee while they brought his body to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.
During it, first responders lined the street as emergency vehicles escorted the firefighter, whose body draped in an American flag.
“Kathy and I send our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, & colleagues of the firefighter who lost their life last night,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement on Twitter. “We stand with our brave first responders @appletonfire, @cityofappleton, and @AppletonPD_WI as they mourn this loss.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul also weighed in.
“My condolences to the family and friends of the brave firefighter who lost his life in Appleton yesterday. May everyone affected by this tragedy find peace”.
Meghan Cash is a representative of the Appleton Police Department.
Our hearts are with our colleagues and friends at @appletonfire today.
Our community is tremendously loving and giving and we know you’ll reach out to support our firefighters and @AppletonPD_WI officers during this time of grief and mourning. #Appleton pic.twitter.com/HVClWKSQ2A
— City of Appleton (@cityofappleton) May 16, 2019
She said what made things even harder was the fact that this happened during National Police Week, when the nation recognizes the sacrifices of officers.
Just a few hours before, police were showing kids their police cars at Houdini Plaza and taking part in a brat fry.
“It’s going to be a hard day for us, especially during Police Week, to have something like this happen,” she said.