Suspect, victim in shooting were neighbors

Published On: Feb 07 2013 09:27:11 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 07 2013 07:11:50 PM CST
PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, Wis. -

Rock County sheriff's officials said a woman found dead in a barn Wednesday in the Town of Plymouth had apparently been shot by a neighbor, who also shot himself.

The victim, Christine Gestrich, 59, was found dead in a shed by deputies when they responded to 6707 W. Stuart Road in Plymouth Township at 8:18 a.m. for a report of a shooting.

Deputies reported hearing a gunshot when they arrived at the scene and found Daniel Bellard, 75, in a different shed suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A shotgun was with him when a SWAT team found him, according to investigators.

Bellard was treated at the scene by a SWAT doctor and was taken by helicopter to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. He is hospitalized in critical condition and is being guarded by sheriff's deputies.

Sheriff's officials said Bellard's wife reported the shooting.

"We know that she approached the barn on a skid loader. We believe that she was attempting to perhaps remove snow, and then from that point on we're still trying to ascertain what occurred," Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.

Detectives said it appeared there was an altercation.

The sheriff said it's not yet clear what motivated the shooting.

"They have been neighbors for some time, we have been made aware that there were in the past some disputes over boundaries, land property boundary, prior to this incident occurring," Spoden said.

Town Chairman Larry Harding said the neighbors' disputes never made it to the town board. He said the incident has greatly affected the community of about 1,200 people.

"Everybody feels sad. This is a close community," Harding said. "Everybody is going to be affected by this one way or another; it was two town residents."

Spoden said three firearms were taken from the property as evidence.

The sheriff said detectives hope to interview Bellard once his condition stabilizes.