John Roemer, a retired Juneau County Circuit Court Judge, was murdered in his Town of Lisbon, Wisconsin, home in a targeted attack by a man who is accused of being enraged at the criminal justice system and having a hit list of other high-profile “targets.”
The suspect was named as Douglas K. Uhde. Read more about him here.
Uhde has a lengthy felony history in Wisconsin, albeit an old one. He also has a history of pro Trump and gun posts on social media.
Roemer sentenced Uhde to six years in prison for armed burglary back in 2005, online court records show.
Heavy has confirmed the judge’s name with a law enforcement source. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported that Roemer was the victim in the June 3, 2022, early morning slaying. The newspaper is reporting that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was on the suspect’s hit list as well. Authorities have not confirmed that information, however.
According to WISN-TV, Roemer was “zip-tied to a chair and fatally shot.” His hit list also included Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the television station reported. ABC News reported that there were over a dozen names on the suspect’s hit list.
620 WTMJ reported through sources that the suspect was part of a militia and that he had a hit list “that included the names of several elected officials including Governor Tony Evers.” Authorities have not confirmed the militia angle either, however. The Wisconsin governor, who is up for reelection in November, has not commented on the report. The murder occurred near Mauston, Wisconsin, according to a Wisconsin Department of Justice press release.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Roemer Was Killed in a ‘Targeted Act’ & Had Other Targets ‘Related to the Judicial System,’ the State’s Attorney General Says; the 911 Caller Escaped Out a Window
According to dispatch audio obtained by Heavy, the 911 caller said he woke up and saw a male subject with a firearm, a pistol. The subject didn’t see him, and he was able to exit the house through a window. He said his father would normally be in the garage or kitchen area at this time, but he didn’t know whether his father was when he called, the dispatcher said. That report was at just before 7 a.m. on Friday, June 3, 2022. Officers spoke about running a Michigan plate and said they wanted to make contact with the person in the house.
The officer said he observed someone by the service area of the garage. Then, he said there was a window open in the back.
A Department of Justice timeline gave these details on the law enforcement response:
On Friday, June 3 at approximately 6:30 a.m. the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office received a call notifying law enforcement of an armed person and two shots fired in a Township of New Lisbon residence. The caller had exited the home and contacted law enforcement from a nearby home.
Following failed attempts to negotiate with the individual in the home, at approximately 10:17 a.m. the Juneau County Special Tactics and Response Team entered the residence and located the homeowner, a sixty-eight-year-old male, deceased.
In a news conference on June 3, 2022, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said the “critical incident” occurred in the town of New Lisbon that morning. He said the victim was targeted based on court cases. Kaul declined to name the victim or suspect.
“This incident appears to be a targeted act,” Kaul said.
“The individual who is a suspect appears to have other targets related to the judicial system,” Kaul said. Law enforcement officials don’t believe there is an active danger to others, however.
The state Department of Justice that Kaul leads handles select criminal cases of statewide importance, he said.
2. Roemer Was a Retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve & a Former Prosecutor
According to Ballotpedia, John P. Roemer was “a circuit court judge for the Juneau County Circuit Court in Wisconsin. He was elected to the bench in the spring of 2004 after defeating former judge Dennis C. Shuh with 62 percent of the vote. Roemer was re-elected in 2010 and 2016.”
The site reports that, before he was a judge, Roemer “was a Juneau County assistant district attorney for twelve years. Roemer also worked as an assistant state public defender in Baraboo, Wisconsin. In November 2002, Roemer retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel.”
Roemer “received a J.D. from Hamline University Law School,” Ballotpedia reports.
A judicial newsletter says that Roemer was also a former public defender. An assistant district attorney, Roemer defeated a former District Attorney appointed to the bench by then Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, the newsletter says.
3. The Suspect Shot Himself
Kaul said in a news conference that the suspect was found with a self-inflicted wound and is in critical condition.
Asked by a reporter whether he was recently incarcerated and then released, Kaul would not say.
At 6:30 a.m., on June 3, 2022, the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office received a call notifying law enforcement of an armed person and shots fired, Kaul said.
The caller had exited the home and called law enforcement. After failed attempts to negotiate with the gunman, a special response team entered the residence and located the homeowner, a 68-year-old male, who was deceased. The attorney general did not name him.
The 56-year-old suspect was located in the basement with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A firearm was recovered. That male was transported to a medical facility, Kaul said.
Kaul confirmed that the incident occurred at the “home of a former judge,” and said, “This is an ongoing investigation.”
4. Roemer Was Remembered as a ‘Brilliant Legal Scholar’
Roemer, also known as Jack Roemer, had three sons with his wife Vivian, who died in 2018, according to her obituary.
According to Madison.com, Roemer retired in 2017. That year he was judge in a case of a village president who had been convicted of sexual assault, giving him a new trial, the newspaper reported.
Roemer was a “brilliant legal scholar who devoted an incredible amount of time to doing the right thing,” said Scott Southworth, former Juneau County district attorney, to the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.
“I learned a great deal from him,” he said.
5. Roemer Was Described as a Friendly Neighbor Who Walked His Dogs
A neighbor told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of Roemer, “He walks his dogs all the time. He’s friendly, nice enough guy.”
Reporter Derrick Rose reported that the victim’s son saw the gunman but escaped.
A woman who knew Roemer wrote in Facebook, “I worked with Judge Roemer my entire law enforcement career. First when he was the Assistant District Attorney then when was was appointed Judge. He was a great man that treated people with respect and he was also fair. I remember a long time ago going to see him at his office and I could hear his rock music from down the hall because it was so loud. I just have no other words but prayers to his family at this difficult time.”