Armed man sought Wisconsin governor at Capitol. After arrest he returned with assault-style gun

A man illegally brought a handgun into the Wisconsin Capitol on Wednesday, demanding to see Gov. Tony Evers, and returned at night with an assault rifle after posting bail, a spokesperson for the state said.

The man, who was shirtless and had a holstered handgun, approached the governor’s office on the first floor of the Capitol around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, state Department of Administration spokesperson Tatyana Warrick said Thursday. The man was demanding to see the governor, who was not in the building at the time, Warrick said.

A Capitol police officer sits at a desk outside of a suite of rooms that includes the governor’s office, conference room and offices for the attorney general.

The man was taken into custody for openly carrying a firearm in the Capitol, which is against the law, Warrick said. Weapons can be brought into the Capitol if they are concealed and the person has a valid permit. The man arrested did not have a concealed carry permit, Warrick said.

Man returned with assault-style rifle, asked for governor

The man was booked into the Dane Count Jail but later posted bail.

He returned to the outside of the Capitol shortly before 9 p.m. with an assault-style rifle, Warrick said. The building closes to the public at 6 p.m. He again demanded to see the governor and was taken into custody.

Madison police reported Thursday that the man, who was not named, was taken into productive custody and taken to the hospital. A spokesperson for the police department did not return an email seeking additional details.

When asked about the incident at an event, Evers said, “The Capitol police took control of the situation so it’s over, but it’s always something you don’t want to see happen.” He reiterated he doesn’t comment on his security but said he’s sure police are evaluating any potential changes.

Evers was once on gunman’s hit list

The incident is just the latest in a series of violent threats against public officials.

Evers, a Democrat, was on a hit list of a gunman suspected of fatally shooting a retired county judge at his Wisconsin home in 2022. Others on that list included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Whitmer was the target of a kidnapping plot in 2020.

Warrick said no immediate changes to security in the Capitol or for the governor were planned. The public has free access to the Capitol daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are no metal detectors.

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