- Associated Press - Friday, May 2, 2014
3 dead, 2 injured in Madison stabbings, shooting

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A suspect stabbed and killed two people and wounded another Friday before being fatally shot by responding officers, Madison police said.

The suspect who was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries later died, the Madison Police Department said in a statement posted Friday night on its website. A third victim was in stable condition, police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

The stabbings took place in one of a few apartments above a vacant office building on the main road through the state capital. Police blocked off a busy intersection, snarling traffic in the city for several hours. There appeared to be few witnesses, with a bar next to the building closed until evening.

DeSpain said police responding to a 911 call arrived about 1 p.m., and at least one of the responding officers shot the suspect. He did not say how many shots were fired or how many officers used their weapons.

One person died at the scene from stab wounds, and a second died at a hospital, he said.

DeSpain provided few details about what happened, other than to say it appeared to have been a dispute between neighbors.

“We just don’t have any motive at this time,” DeSpain said.


Wisconsin grain farmers helped by high corn prices

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Wisconsin farmers saw the value of their grain double with high corn prices during the ethanol boom, and new data show the number of grain farms in America’s Dairyland rose sharply during that time.

The growth in grain farms came even as Wisconsin lost dairy and other types of farms.

The changes were detailed Friday in information from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts the count every five years to gather information on the nation’s farms and the people who run them.

The latest census found fewer, larger farms in Wisconsin than five years earlier, a trend seen nationwide. Milk remained the state’s most valuable product, accounting for nearly $5 billion of the state’s $11.7 billion in agricultural sales in 2012. Grain sales doubled from $1.6 billion 2007 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2012, with much of the gain coming from the increased value of corn.

Wisconsin had about 69,800 farms in 2012. That’s about 8,700 less than in 2007, when the previous census was done. Data released earlier this year showed the state also lost about 620,000 acres of farmland.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said Friday that much of the loss could be explained by sales of woodland that farmers weren’t tilling and decided to no longer keep. Florence and Vilas counties, on the border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, saw the largest decreases in farm acreage.

“While no one likes to see the decrease in the number of farms and land in farms, it represents the evolving agricultural industry,” DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel said in a statement. “There are several trends we’ll look for as we analyze these numbers such as neighbors and multiple families combining farms to develop efficiencies or acreage in production through a rental or lease agreement rather than sole ownership. Land may have been repurposed from agricultural production to recreational use.”


Ex-police officer accused of assaulting 8 boys

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - A former police officer turned businessman accused of sexually assaulting a boy is facing additional assault charges involving seven more children in northwestern Wisconsin.

New charges filed in St. Croix County this week against Daniel Albert Barber, 46, allege that the former Somerset police officer sexually assaulted seven boys, including two toddlers and five others under age 9 dating back to 2004.

The charges are in addition to those filed in February involving a 6-year-old boy at Barber’s home. Investigators said they also found child pornography on Barber’s computer.

Barber has pleaded not guilty to those charges, including first-degree child sexual assault.

Barber’s attorney, Mark Gherty, declined to comment on the additional charges Friday. Barber remained free on $75,000 bond pending a court appearance, prosecutors said.

Many of the children came into contact with Barber after he offered to baby-sit for their families and sometimes used Craigslist and Facebook to connect with parents, according to St. Croix County Sheriff John Shilts.

“There seems to be a common thread that it was a family in need of baby-sitting or taking care of a child,” Shilts said.


Wisconsin candidate backs off on KKK hood stunt

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial hopeful backed off his plan to distribute Ku Klux Klan-style hoods at the Republican state convention Friday, acknowledging that it was a ploy to draw media attention to his campaign.

Brett Hulsey, a bombastic state representative from Madison, is vying with better-funded Mary Burke for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November. Burke is widely seen as the front-runner, and Hulsey’s campaign has been little more than a sideshow so far, with invitations to join him for beers, farmer’s market outings and at a tailgate party.

Husley told reporters Thursday that he planned to dress up as a confederate soldier and hand KKK-style hoods to Republicans at their annual gathering in Milwaukee. He said he wanted to mock a GOP proposal calling for the Legislature to affirm Wisconsin’s right to secede and what he called racist Republican policies.

Democrats and Republicans alike have distanced themselves from Hulsey’s antics over the last few weeks. Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate has said handing out KKK hoods has no place in the public dialogue. Gerard Randall, chair of the state GOP’s black caucus, on Friday called the plan a reprehensible stunt.

“He’s brought dishonor upon himself and other members of the Democratic Party,” Randall said.

Hulsey showed up outside the convention center in downtown Milwaukee on Friday in a homemade soldier’s outfit that consisted of cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, grey slacks and a grey blazer adorned with yellow tape standing in for military piping.

He carried two signs with him. One had his name on it; the other featured a handwritten list of Republican polices he feels are racist. But he had no hoods.

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