Shots fired, pursuit, standoff; Sussex man charged

A Sussex man is now charged with five felonies and a misdemeanor after a series of Jan. 19 incidents that prompted school lockdowns.

Prosecutors say David Macholl, 37, fired shots at two businesses and led deputies on a chase before a standoff at his home. 

Shots fired in Hartland, Pewaukee

Things started when Hartland police were called to a business on Richards Road around 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. An employee said she saw a man pull up in a white car and take out a shotgun that had a scope and sling. The man shot the gun at company vehicles that were in the parking lot, reloaded and shot again. The employee said the man "looked like he was smiling" before driving away. A second employee recounted similar events.

According to a criminal complaint, surveillance showed the man – since identified as Macholl – pull up and shoot at vehicles in the parking lot with a pump-action shotgun, hitting two of them. The damage was estimated at roughly $7,800. 

David Macholl

Officers later learned Macholl had worked for the business years ago. Days before the shots were fired, the complaint states Macholl made a "concerning" call about the business, during which he alleged he was "being harassed" by the business and that an employee was "hacking" his passwords and "stealing his IP address." 

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As it turned out, it was not the only place Macholl allegedly fired the gun that day.

Per the complaint, an employee of a business on Lynndale Road in Pewaukee – located on the way from Macholl's Sussex home to the Hartland business – said he heard a shot and looked up to see a man holding a shotgun. The man was in a car that matched the description from the other shots fired incident. Surveillance showed the incident, and police identified Macholl as the man involved. A van parked at the business was damaged.

Pursuit and standoff

While Hartland police investigated at the scene, Waukesha County sheriff's deputies looked for the white car. After finding it near Water Tower Court, deputies tried to conduct a traffic stop – but the driver, identified as Macholl, drove off. The complaint states he was driving as high as 30 mph over the posted speed limit as he fled before returning to the area of Water Tower Court. During the chase, deputies tried to use stop sticks but did not deploy them in time.

The complaint states Macholl pulled into the residence, got out of the car and refused to comply with orders to put his hands above his head and stop moving. He opened the garage door and went inside. Authorities then formed a permitter around the home. The Waukesha County Sheriff's Department drone unit, negotiators and other personnel were called in.

Hamilton schools temporarily on lockdown

During negotiations, the complaint states Macholl refused to come out and speak – apparently "having delusions" about religion and someone trying to kill him with a knife. Eventually, he was taken into custody around 4:25 p.m. – roughly two hours after shots were fired at the Hartland business.

A shelter-in-place alert was issued during the search and standoff, and several schools were put on lockdown. The lockdowns were lifted once Macholl was located, but Woodside Elementary – across the street from where the standoff ensued – remained on lockdown until just before 5 p.m. 

A letter to Hamilton School District families that day said Hamilton High School, Templeton Middle School, Silver Spring Intermediate School, Willow Springs Elementary School and Woodside Elementary School were placed on lockdown. Several school bus routes were also temporarily held in place.

Macholl in custody

At the sheriff's department, the complaint states Macholl made comments about "celebrities drugging him and conspiring against him to coerce him into working as a sale's person." He ultimately admitted to firing two shots at the Hartland business and that he was "possessed by an angel at the time." He did it because "they were harassing him, and that he felt he was acting in self-defense." He later admitted to shooting at a vehicle parked outside the Pewaukee business, too. 

Macholl said he did not intend to hurt anyone, per the complaint, and that he did not know who owned the vehicles he shot at. He was also aware he was being pursued and that he intended to "get them to follow him and corner him at his home."

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In his vehicle, authorities found a pump-action shotgun with a scope and other items, including mail, that belonged to Macholl.

In all, Macholl is charged with:

  • First-degree recklessly endangering safety (two counts)
  • Felony criminal damage to property
  • Attempting to flee/elude an officer
  • Failure to comply
  • Misdemeanor criminal damage to property

Court records indicate Macholl made his initial court appearance on Feb. 10 and had cash bond set at $100,000.