According to those who know him, Cody Treul, the man charged with shooting and killing Gail Howland and critically injuring Ebony M. Lasher last week at PJ’s Bar and Grill in Mauston was a “good guy.”
“He wasn’t a bad person. … I didn’t believe it,” said Angela Scharnow, a bartender at PJ’s and a friend of Treul’s.
Treul, 29, was charged Monday with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering public safety. The homicide charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Juneau County Circuit Court Judge Paul Curran set a cash bond at $2 million.
According to the criminal complaint, about 12:10 a.m. Friday, a detective from the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office who responded to a report of a shooting behind PJ’s , at 337 E. State St. in downtown Mauston, arrived to find Howland, 29, of Mauston and M. Lasher, 23, of Mauston, with multiple gunshot wounds.
Howland was pronounced dead at Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston. Three bullets were recovered from Howland’s body by the Madison physician who performed an autopsy.
Lasher was taken to Mile Bluff Medical Center and then to University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, where she remains in critical condition. Staff at UW Hospital reported that she had suffered two gunshot wounds.
Treul was arrested about 12:54 a.m. by a Mauston police officer in the 200 block of East State Street. At the time of his arrest, Treul possessed a semi-automatic handgun.
“I’ve never had any problems with Cody. We’re just dumbfounded,” said Scharnow, who said she left PJ’s approximately 45 minutes prior to the shooting.
“He was very respectful,” recalled Shawn Cunningham, an acquaintance of Treul’s. Cunningham said Treul attended the funeral of his twin brother, Colin Cunningham, in July dressed in his military uniform and donated hundreds of dollars in his brother’s name following his passing.
“You would never see this coming. … The whole thing is (messed) up,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said he spoke with Treul earlier in the night at Carl’s Bright Spot, a bar just down the road from PJ’s, before the shootings occurred. He said something seemed wrong with Treul.
“That was not the normal Cody. That was not the Cody I know,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said he was one of the first people to meet Treul and give him the nickname “Air force Cody” when Treul moved to Mauston in 2011.
According to statements made at a bond hearing Monday, public defender Elizabeth Mitchel said Treul has been employed for the past six years at Volk Field, where he serves in the Air National Guard with a rank of master sergeant. A U.S. Air Force flag donated by Treul hangs at PJ’s today.
Scharnow, who also said she was one of the first people to meet Treul when he moved to the area, described Treul as a hard worker who was on the path to success.
“I don’t understand. He had a lot going for him,” Scharnow said.
She said Treul loves sports and often would wear authentic jerseys when out of the house. A picture of Treul wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey hangs on the wall at PJ’s among other photos of bar patrons.
“He showed me his closet of jerseys once. … He played cards at my house. … I babysat his dog when he was away,” Scharnow said.
A memorial has been erected for Howland and Lasher outside PJ’s where the shootings occurred. Two crosses adorned with pink and blue flowers stand approximately five feet apart against a white brick wall in the courtyard area.
“It’s kind of creepy,” Scharnow said of the memorials, which stood in the dirt glistening with fresh raindrops Tuesday afternoon.
“(Howland) has two kids. She loved her kids,” Scharnow said.
Treul remains in custody in the Juneau County jail. He is scheduled for an initial court appearance June 19.