- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015
Milwaukee man killed by hit-and-run driver in blue minivan

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Authorities are seeking the public’s help in identifying the driver of a blue minivan involved in a fatal hit-and-run crash in Milwaukee.

Police say a 61-year-old Milwaukee man was walking along a street on the city’s northwest side about 5:40 a.m. Wednesday when he was struck by a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say the vehicle, an older model blue minivan, stopped for a brief time after striking the pedestrian, and then fled the scene.

Anyone with information regarding the fatal crash is asked to call the Milwaukee Police Department.

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Wisconsin trooper killed in shootout was new academy grad

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin State Patrol trooper just three months out of the academy and working the first solo patrol of his “dream job” died in a shootout with a bank robbery suspect also believed to have killed a motorist.

The robbery suspect, Steven Timothy Snyder of Michigan, also died in the confrontation Tuesday with Trooper Trevor Casper in Fond du Lac, in eastern Wisconsin. The FBI said late Wednesday it was looking at Snyder as a possible suspect in two bank robberies Tuesday in Wisconsin as well as other unsolved robberies inside and outside the state.

Snyder was also considered a suspect in the death of the motorist, Thomas C. Christ, 59, of Wausaukee, who was found shot to death not far from the site of Tuesday’s first bank robbery.

Family and friends mourned Casper, 21, as someone who knew early he wanted to go into law enforcement, and was a high achiever in his criminal justice studies.

“He definitely had a servant’s heart,” said Dave Funkhouser, the chief of police in Casper’s hometown of Kiel. The chief, who visited Casper’s parents early in the day, said the small town of about 3,700 shared their grief.

“When an incident like this happens we all hurt,” he said.

State investigators said video surveillance showed Snyder robbed the State Bank of Florence in Wausaukee, about 130 miles to the north at 1:43 p.m. The robber fired a handgun inside the bank, took an unspecified amount of cash and fled in a bank employee’s vehicle.

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Authorities ID man believed killed by bank robbery suspect

MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) - Marinette County authorities have identified a man they think was killed by a bank robbery suspect.

Sheriff Jerry Sauve says in a statement that investigators believe 59-year-old Thomas C. Christ of Wausaukee was shot and killed Tuesday in an encounter with a bank robbery suspect near his property.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is leading the investigation into Christ’s death and the shooting death later Tuesday of Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Trevor Casper in the city of Fond du Lac. Authorities have said they believe both were killed by the same man.

The department says it continues to investigate how several crimes Tuesday in Marinette County and Fond du Lac fit together.

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VA officials to testify at Senate about prescription policy

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A VA medical center in Tomah accused of rampantly overprescribing painkillers was expected to be a focus of a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday, with several Department of Veterans Affairs officials scheduled to testify.

In written testimony released in advance of the hearing in Washington, interim VA Undersecretary for Health Carolyn Clancy said she is deeply concerned about allegations of overprescribing practices and retaliatory behavior at the center in Wisconsin, where investigations are ongoing. She said if employee misconduct is found, those responsible will be held accountable.

But Clancy also said the VA has succeeded elsewhere in limiting use of narcotics to treat pain. Clancy said through the Opioid Safety Initiative, medical centers in Minneapolis, Tampa and Cleveland have significantly cut their use of narcotics to manage chronic pain symptoms. She said the Cleveland facility received an award from the American Pain Society for using “complementary and alternative medicine to lower (patients’) reliance on opioids.”

Other representatives from the VA and the VA Office of the Inspector General’s office are scheduled to speak in front of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Experts in drug safety and drug control are also expected to testify.

A VA report earlier this month found that patients at the Tomah hospital were more likely than patients at other VA hospitals to receive high doses of narcotics. That report also said a culture of fear among employees affected patient care. Jason Simcakoski, a 35-year-old Marine, died of an overdose in the hospital’s inpatient care unit last year.

Tomah facility director Mario DeSanctis was reassigned to a position at the Great Lakes Health Care System network office. Chief of staff David Houlihan was placed on administrative leave earlier this month pending the results of several investigations.

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