On a dreadful Sunday, November 21, 2004, during the gun deer hunting season 8 hunters from Northern Wisconsin were shot dead by Chia Soua Vang, a California National Guard Member, who was a sharpshooter with US Army basic training in the year 1989. The event happened north of Birchwood. The hunters Mark Roidt, Al Laski, Denny Drew, Bob & Joe Crotteau, Jessica & Terry Willers and Lauren Hesebeck were on the property for a hunting venture when Vang trespassed on the property.
The hunters asked him to leave after spotting him on the hunter’s deer stands. Agitated Vanga took his rifle and shot continuously emptying 20 round clip of a Saiga rifle that killed eight hunters, 6 of whom were shot in the back while trying to flee the place. At that point of time, only one hunter was armed. Some were shot more than once. Vang was immediately apprehended by the DNR warden. He was found guilty of six counts of first degree intentional homicide and three counts of attempted first degree intentional homicide. Vang is not in Iowa prison where he will spend rest of his life. The verdict came on September 16, 2005.
Despite more than a decade gone by the tragedy has seemed to remain fresh in the minds of the near and dear that are unable to forget their beloveds. The grief is immeasurable, and the town will never be able to forget this tragedy for years to come. Though the normal routine has set in the lives of the family and friends of the deceased life will not be the same again. The family misses their loved ones for every festival, functions, and special family gatherings. The emptiness will persist despite time being the best healer to heal the wounds that have been inflicted for no wrong of the deceased. May the grace of God be with the families and help them make strong.
May their soul rest in peace!
One holiday season turned fateful for Mark Roidt, Al Laski, Denny Drew, Bob & Joe Crotteau, Jessica & Terry Willers and Lauren Hesebeck as they were shot dead by a gunman who was trespassing on the Rice Lake Hunters property. We are thankful for those who have taken time to pray and take part in the memorial services of our beloveds. Words cannot measure the amount of grief we are undergoing. We are immensely grateful for those who stood by us during our tough times and continue to render their support. We want to mention here that Tim Jubie and Mike Bock have initiated the funding process that assists us in many ways.
Since the time of the incident, many volunteers have lent their hands in support of the family of the victims. The love they have given us is so immense that we are indebted to them for life. We have no words to express our thanks and we use this platform as the ideal means to thank one and all that have stood by our side during our tough times especially during the trial and after. We take this opportunity to acknowledge that we were able to sail through because of your kind support and guidance and wish it is with us all the time. The pain is more when we try to celebrate the festival and special occasions without our dear ones, and your support has helped us tide over this situation. The trauma remains yet the community bond has shown the togetherness.
The Rice Lake Deer Hunter tragedy will remain fresh in our minds despite 11 years passing by like a win. The tragedy is definitely a blow to the community dwellers and near and dear of those deceased. Our family members venture out for fishing and deer hunting, and I can understand the pain and grief the family members of for Mark Roidt, Al Laski, Denny Drew, Bob & Joe Crotteau, Jessica & Terry Willers and Lauren Hesbeck will be undergoing. I am even petrified to put myself in their shoes and tears roll down my cheeks every time I encounter the family members of the deceased.
Every time I drive via Rice Lake the tragic incident comes alive despite years rolling by. The sound of the gunshots keeps ringing in the years. The community support was great through these years, and it will remain so for the years to come. My prayers go to the family of those still unable to fill the void in their life. I take this opportunity to convey my deepest condolences for the death of their loved ones who may not return for sure, but can assure them that there are more sons and daughters out there to support them whenever there is a need.
Heartfelt condolences for the grieving family members!