A rolling dispute along numerous roads in rural western Wisconsin led to one man being fatally shot and another charged Wednesday with homicide.
Clayton M. Lauritsen, 20, of Cumberland, Wis., was charged in Barron County Circuit Court with first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the shooting Monday of Lauritz Robertson, 45, in his hometown of Barron.
Lauritsen reported the shooting moments later to 911 and was arrested upon his arrival at the Barron County Sheriff's Office, the criminal complaint read. He remains jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail. Court records show that he has yet to retain an attorney.
"The arguing went for a little bit, and then the shooter said, 'I have a gun,' " said Cody Sickler, who witnessed the confrontation. "Lauritz replied, 'I'm not scared of your gun.' Then after that happened, you heard 'bang, bang, bang.' "
The Sheriff's Office initially categorized the killing as "a possible road rage incident," but Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said it was not a matter of one motorist angering another for some perceived driving mistake.
According to the complaint:
A sheriff's sergeant arrived at the 200 block of N. Mill Street and saw a pickup truck stopped in the road and several people trying to revive the motionless man on the snow-covered ground. Emergency medical personnel took over until Robertson died from a gunshot to his chest.
Robertson's friend and roommate, Alex Vaughn, said a driver started following him in Rice Lake, even while making multiple circles on a roundabout.
Vaughn next saw the suspicious car pull up next to him on County Road O, where a 19-year-old passenger he knew flashed a handgun. Vaughn did not know the driver, who turned out to be Lauritsen.
The car continued to follow Vaughn into Barron, where Vaughn texted Robertson about being chased, and in one message wrote, "I may die."
Vaughn then made numerous sudden turns trying to shake the car and eventually lost it.
Not long afterward, he saw the pickup that Robertson was driving stopped on Mill Street and a wounded Robertson on the ground.
Lauritsen's passenger told a sheriff's detective that Lauritsen put a gun on the center console while driving and wanted to fight Vaughn for a reason the charging document did not explain. The passenger said Lauritsen was going up to 140 mph while chasing Vaughn.
Lauritsen and his passenger spotted Robertson in the pickup in Barron. Robertson, unarmed, got out of the pickup and started yelling at Lauritsen.
The passenger said Robertson spotted the gun on Lauritsen's lap, and the two struggled for the weapon. Lauritsen pushed Robertson away, waited 4 to 5 seconds and then shot him.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482