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2 men face charges in separate Columbia County gunfire incidents
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2 men face charges in separate Columbia County gunfire incidents

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Scales of Justice

Two Columbia County men are accused of discharging firearms while intoxicated during separate altercations last week.

The first fight occurred Thursday night in the town of Pacific and the second fight happened early Saturday morning in the town of Lodi.

In the first incident, Bryan K. Mueller, 61, Pardeeville, is charged with felony first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon, and misdemeanors of disorderly conduct, use of a dangerous weapon, and possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

In the second incident, Dylan B. Warnecke, 20, Lodi, is charged with felony first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon, and a misdemeanor of possessing a firearm while intoxicated.

“Alcohol and firearms can be a deadly combination,” Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner said in a news release. “Firearms should be stored in a locked and secure location.”

According to the criminal complaint filed against Mueller, the sheriff’s department responded to an incident involving a gun at 6:46 p.m. at a residence in the town of Pacific. The male victim said Mueller had been drinking alcohol since the early afternoon and became aggressive and argumentative with him. Mueller had been making threats to him all day, including that he would take a gun to him.

The complaint states the victim took a bowl of noodles into a bedroom where Mueller eventually walked in with a 45-caliber handgun and pressed it to the side of the victim’s head, causing him pain. The victim eventually pushed the gun away and hit Mueller over the head with his bowl of noodles. Mueller fell to the floor and the bowl shattered, cutting the victim’s hand.

Mueller and the victim reportedly wrestled over the gun and it went off during the struggle, possibly hitting the ceiling. The victim then hit Mueller over the head with the butt end of the gun and continued to hold it because he knew Mueller had more guns in the house.

Mueller admitted to being the one who pulled the trigger of the gun, the complaint states. He also admitted to being intoxicated and said he had confronted the male victim because the victim would eat large amounts of food in the home. A sheriff’s deputy noticed Mueller’s right index finger was turned at a 90-degree angle, which Mueller said happened because he had his finger inside the trigger guard as the gun was wrestled away from him. The deputy also noticed Mueller had lacerations above his eyebrow and in his hair. Mueller said he got the gun to intimidate the victim because he has only one arm and is unable to protect himself in any other way.

Mueller, who remains in custody, faces up to 17 years and six months in prison for the felony charge and has a preliminary hearing set for Wednesday in Columbia County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Warnecke, the sheriff’s department responded to a report of people fighting and a loud bang at 2:06 a.m. Saturday at a residence in the town of Lodi. Warnecke told the responding sergeant that he shot off a round inside the house when he was fighting with an older man. Warnecke stood in 2 inches of fresh snow outside without any shoes on and admitted that he had been drinking.

The male victim said Warnecke had been drinking in his room and seemed upset, complaining that he couldn’t get a job, the complaint states. Warnecke waved around a large, butcher-style knife and the man told him to stop doing that because he was going to cut himself.

Warnecke said he would shoot himself in his room, where Warnecke eventually held a .30-06 rifle and started to bring it to his head. The man charged Warnecke and grabbed the rifle, but Warnecke would not let go. They exchanged punches, and as they were fighting Warnecke shot a round into the ceiling. Eventually Warnecke left the residence and drove away in his truck.

Warnecke, who is free on a $2,000 signature bond, faces up to 17 years and six months in prison for the felony charge and has a pretrial conference scheduled for Feb. 10 in Columbia County Circuit Court.

Noah Vernau's memorable stories from 2019

Reporter Noah Vernau's memorable stories from 2019 explored school safety funding in Wisconsin, the difficulty schools sometimes have in providing theater programming, how local startup businesses bucked statewide trends to find success and low vaccination rates among children in the region. 

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau or contact him at 608-695-4956.

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