A Cassville man says the only way he thought he could keep his wife safe was to give the gunman in their driveway the keys to his truck — and become the man's hostage.
Walter Riedl told the Wisconsin State Journal about his nearly two-hour ordeal with James Kruger, 36, who is accused in a two-day, multicounty crime spree that includes two attempted homicides and a high-speed chase. Kruger has already been charged with eluding an officer, and more charges are expected.
Riedel said he left with Kruger, and told his wife, Linda, not to cry.
"I never was really scared of him," Riedl told the newspaper.
Riedl, 69, never panicked, and authorities say that helped keep him alive and lead police to Kruger.
"Everyone was pretty impressed with his demeanor. He did the right things," said Iowa County Sheriff Steve Michek said. "We're awfully glad he was able to get away from the guy."
Riedl said during the drive, Kruger was taking drugs and threatening Riedl's life in one moment, then preaching "religious stuff" in the next.
Kruger also appeared prepared for a standoff with police, he said. He had a handgun and a shotgun with him, both stolen from his uncle, Dale Kruger, as well as a silver box that he said was full of explosives, Riedl said. It turned out not to contain explosives.
Online court records do not list an attorney for James Kruger.
The ordeal began about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. Linda Riedl saw Kruger back his black Honda Civic into a space in her husband's workshop. She went outside, and he pointed his gun at her.
"He told her he was going to kill himself," he said. "My wife told him to calm down, and he did."
Riedl was on the farm loading a cow on his cattle trailer so he could take it to be slaughtered in Bloomington. When Riedl pulled up to his workshop, he saw Kruger with the handgun pointed at his own head.
Riedl told Kruger they wouldn't call the police if he left. But Kruger kept his gun on his head.
"He told us to read the Bible and that he was going to save the world," Riedl added. At one point, he suddenly waved his gun at them and said, "I could kill both of yous," Riedl recalled.
About 9 a.m. Riedl proposed he and Kruger drive to Bloomington and he'd drop Kruger off near Kruger's relatives. Kruger didn't stop in Bloomington as Riedl proposed. As they drove through Mount Ida, Fennimore and Montfort, Riedl plotted how he would get away.
In Dodgeville, Kruger told Riedl to go into Rickey Ridge's Taxidermy Studio and buy a soda. Riedl got the attention of the owner: "I told him I was more or less a hostage and that guy in my truck has a gun," Riedl said. The owner called 911 and loaded his shotgun, but Kruger drove away after he heard police sirens. Police caught up with him about an hour later.
Authorities in Grant and Iowa counties are seeking 15 felony counts, including attempted first-degree intentional homicide stemming from Kruger's alleged attack on his uncle, and a kidnapping charge stemming from the time he held Riedl.
Madison police say Kruger also stabbed a 48-year-old man there on Monday.
By Thursday, Riedl said his nerves had calmed down.
"It was like a bad dream and you wake up and it's gone," he said.