As investigators release more information into the deaths of five people in Chippewa County, those who knew the victims are reacting.
During a news conference Tuesday, investigators identified the victims as Bridget German, 66, Douglas German, 32, Calvin Harris, 8 and Laile Vang, 24. Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk, also identified the shooter, Ritchie German Junior, 33, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Three of the victims were found at a home on 54th Avenue in the Town of Lafayette and two bodies were found at a home in Lake Hallie.
The victims on 54th Avenue are relatives to the perpetrator. Authorities say Ritchie German shot his mother, Bridget, his brother Douglas, and his 8 year-old nephew Calvin. He says all three died of gunshot wounds to the head. “Mother was found in the basement. She was shot in the bathroom and dragged into an adjacent room. We believe at this pint Douglas and his son were shot in the kitchen, wrapped up in a sleeping bag and they were discovered in the bedroom,” said Sheriff Kowalczyk.
The sheriff believes Ritchie spent the night in the home after shooting his family. Investigators say other family members indicate Ritchie was a troubled individual. In 2006 he was convicted of disorderly conduct after pulling a gun on his brothers.
The fourth homicide victim is Laile Vang. Vang was shot Sunday night in Lake Hallie .The sheriff says Vang’s parents Mai Vang, 39, and Teng Vang, 51, were shot and hurt.
Authorities say Ritchie fired shots through the front door with a shotgun, comparing the incident to the Jayme Closs case out of Barron County. “It was similar in nature. In the Closs investigation the door was breached, a shot gun was used, said Kowalszyk. At this time investigators are trying to establish a connection between Ritchie German and Laile Vang.
A high school friend of Laile says she didn’t deserve what happened to her. “She was such a beautiful person. She was always laughing or finding a way to make other people laugh…she was just so sweet,” said Melody Evans-Ermatinger.
Melody has known Laile for 7 years and says she’s in shock but wants people to remember Laile for the beautiful person she was. “I couldn’t believe it and i just kept on crying and I still can’t really believe it and i don’t know why it happened…especially to her of all people,” Melody said.
Investigators say they are still trying to determine a motive.