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Brothers accused of using shotgun during grilling argument

Two brothers are accused of pointing a loaded shotgun at each other during an argument stemming from grilling hot dogs.

Alex J. Thompson, 20, of Fairchild, and Isaac J. Thompson, 20, of Osseo, were each charged Monday in Eau Claire County Court with misdemeanor counts of pointing a firearm at another person and disorderly conduct.

Isaac Thompson is also charged with a misdemeanor count of battery.

A $150 cash bail was set for each brother. Isaac Thompson and Alex Thompson return to court July 23 and 24, respectively.

According to the criminal complaint:

Eau Claire County sheriff’s deputies were sent to a domestic incident at a residence on Front Street in Fairchild at 7:50 p.m. Sunday.

Alex Thompson called to say he was in a physical and verbal confrontation with his brother, Isaac Thompson, and a firearm was involved.

A deputy arrived to find three men standing outside. Several knives were removed from the pockets of the Thompsons.

The brothers said the involved shotgun was inside the bedroom.

The third man said he heard the two brothers arguing and then heard a loud smack.

The man entered the bedroom to see Alex Thompson stumbling backward after being hit.

The man said Alex Thompson then got a loaded shotgun, returned to the bedroom and said the safety was off.

Alex Thompson pointed the gun at Isaac Thompson’s chest.

Isaac Thompson then got the gun and pointed it at Alex Thompson’s legs, then his head and said he would shoot him.

The man then called 911.

The brothers struggled over the gun. When Isaac Thompson got control of the gun, he hit Alex Thompson, pointed the gun at his face, and ejected all the rounds onto the floor.

Alex Thompson told deputies they were hanging out and planned to grill hot dogs.

When the hot dogs started to cook, Isaac Thompson was still playing video games, which upset Alex Thompson.

Alex Thompson told his brother to leave several times but got no response.

Alex Thompson said his brother pushed him, and that’s when he got the shotgun involved.

Isaac Thompson confirmed the information provided by his brother.

A deputy seized the 12-gauge shotgun from the bedroom.

A three-round holder mounted on the gun contained three live rounds. Six more rounds were on the floor.

Staff photo by Dan Reiland  

Keenan Thao, 9, of St. Paul, who was fishing with his uncle Nou Vang of Eau Claire, casts his line Monday into the Eau Claire River below the Lake Altoona dam. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s, Monday was a beautiful day to be outside, but the National Weather Service forecast calls for a good chance of showers and possibly thunderstorms today and Wednesday in the Chippewa Valley. View more photos at

Traffic on Crescent Ave. restricted Thursday

Motorists not attending the Blue Ox Music Festival may want to bypass a section of Crescent Avenue on Thursday in the Eau Claire area.

According to a news release from the Eau Claire County sheriff’s office:

Traffic will be restricted Thursday, opening day of the three-day event, on Crescent between Curvue Road and South Town Hall Road from 6 a.m. to about 10 p.m. in the town of Union. Commuters who use Crescent Avenue are advised to use an alternate route.

Traffic will return to normal after 10 p.m. Thursday and should not be affected during the remainder of the festival, as most of the festival attendees camp at the site and stay for all three days.

The fifth annual Blue Ox, a bluegrass-Americana festival, will feature artists such as the following:

Thursday: Infamous Stringdusters, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Lil Smokies and Lowest Pair.

Friday: Trampled By Turtles, Pert Near Sandstone, “The Travelin’ McCourys Tip Their Hat to Sam Bush,” Fruition, Del McCoury Band, Jeff Austin Band, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Pokey LaFarge.

Saturday: Railroad Earth, Pert Near Sandstone, Billy Strings, the Dead South, Charlie Parr, Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan’s Carter Stanley’s Eyes, Them Coulee Boys.

For tickets and more information about the event, call 715-602-4440 or visit

Menomonie school board discusses future of STEM certificate, five-year plan

The Menomonie school board Monday approved a five-year strategic plan, which includes a goal of offering a STEM certificate at Menomonie High School in the 2019-2020 school year.

MHS students could earn the certificate — which would focus on science, engineering, technology and mathematics — by completing STEM courses, student activities with a STEM focus and finishing a STEM-related capstone project, director of instruction Brian Seguin said in May.

The board hasn’t approved the STEM certificate; it first discussed the proposal at a May meeting.

A board member Monday disagreed with the certificate’s place on the strategic plan.

“There were some questions raised … to think about how you make that STEM accessibility equitable for students,” board member Chris Freeman said, recommending the board take another week to look at the plan before voting. Freeman in May said the certificate could put students who aren’t studying STEM at a disadvantage.

District administrator Joe Zydowsky said the strategic plan isn’t asking the board to approve a STEM certificate now, but is responding to community comments about preparing students for careers and college.

The plan is a changing document; staff will bring the plan back to the board each year with specific action plans, Zydowsky said.

The district created the plan with two surveys, over 40 focus groups, a steering committee and input from employees, students and parents, Zydowsky said.

According to the plan, the district has several goals by summer 2020: increasing student participation in dual-credit courses by at least 2 percent per year, increasing internships for high school students by at least 1 percent per year and increasing the number of students entering college by at least 0.5 percent per year.

The district will also aim to train staff in adolescent mental health and create a system to track student-reported mental health emergencies by the summer of 2020, according to the plan.

The district also has a goal to build secure entrances at Oaklawn Elementary, Menomonie Middle and Knapp Elementary schools by the summer of 2020, according to the plan.

Charges: Woman flees from police, sets fire inside garage

A Chippewa Falls woman is accused of fleeing from police, entering a locked garage and setting her purse on fire inside the building.

Barbara J. Link, 49, 3487 S. Joles Parkway, was charged recently in Eau Claire County Court with felony counts of arson of building, burglary, attempting to elude an officer and bail jumping, and misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and obstructing an officer.

Link is scheduled to make her initial court appearance today.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police were called May 8 to a building in the 5500 block of Renee Drive after a woman came inside, pulled the alarm and asked for assistance.

The woman then left the area in a van.

The woman, later identified as Link, then called 911 from Mill Run Road and the North Crossing. She hung up before giving her location or reason for calling.

An officer found Link and her vehicle parked in the grass on the side of the main driveway to the Menards Distribution Center.

The officer made contact with Link after she drove a short distance to the Old Mill Plaza. Link’s vehicle had a defective brake light and no license plates.

Link was rocking back and forth and grabbing at the steering wheel. The officer asked Link several times to turn off the vehicle and roll down her window so he could talk to her, but she did not comply. The officer believed Link may have been under the influence of a controlled substance.

Link then put the vehicle into drive and accelerated away from the officer. The officer got into his vehicle and pursued Link.

Link drove aimlessly through neighboring yards and across roadways and driveways before eventually pulling into the driveway of a residence on North Town Hall Road.

An officer pulled into the driveway and parked behind Link’s vehicle, which was parked in front of a closed garage. Link was no longer inside her vehicle, but it was still running with the keys in the ignition.

The officer looked through a window of the garage and saw Link sitting in the driver’s seat of a large milk truck. The officer tried to open the garage door but it was locked.

Suddenly, a window of the garage was broken.

When a service door was opened from the inside, officers could see a large amount of fire on the floor of the garage that extended several feet. An officer jumped away from the door to avoid the flames.

A window broke on the other side of the garage and officers there then tased Link and took her from the garage, which was still burning inside.

Link resisted officers’ attempts to get her away from the garage. She was taken by ambulance to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

Firefighters extinguished the fire and determined it was started by a purse that was lit on fire near the garage door. Link’s identifying information was inside the purse.

The owner of the property said Link did not have permission to enter the garage or cause damage.

Link was free on a signature bond for an ongoing 2019 felony case in Eau Claire County.