DA admits mistake in suspect’s release

DA's office thought there was probation hold on Kruger
DA admits mistake in suspect’s release
Crash scene on Highway 18/151

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said his office “probably made a mistake” when James Kruger, 36, was released after a court hearing on Sept. 4.

Kruger was sought by numerous law enforcement agencies Tuesday and was taken into custody after stealing two cars, taking a hostage and leading deputies on a high-speed chase Tuesday afternoon, according to the Dane County Sheriff’s Office.

Police deployed road spikes near Highway F in the town of Blue Mounds around 12:45 p.m., according to a release. Kruger hit the road spikes, which caused him to lose control and roll the vehicle. He was able to get out of the vehicle before it became fully engulfed in flames, and was arrested.

The crash scene on Highway 18/151 remained closed until after 4 p.m. because of a potential explosive device found in Kruger’s vehicle.

Ozanne told News 3 Kruger was in court Sept. 4 on a charge of eluding an officer, and an assistant district attorney only asked for a signature bond because they thought he would be held on a probation hold, but his probation ended in August.

“If he was still in custody, obviously he wouldn’t have had the ability to do what he has done. We are lucky we have not lost any lives with this individual,” said Dane County District Attorney Ishmael Ozanne. “We are not perfect and with the volume we have, the staffing levels we have, the fact that we do not make these mistakes often is reassuring to me and hopefully reassuring to the public.”

Mahoney said there were no holds on Kruger before he was released.

Kruger was also wanted on charges from the Platteville Police Department and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

Kruger went to a residence in the Village of Cassville Tuesday morning, assaulted a man and took several guns from the residence, according to a release. 

The Grant County Sheriff’s Department got reports of shots fired south of Cassville and a search for Kruger was conducted, officials said. Around 11 a.m. a woman called authorities reporting that a man had been kidnapped.

Kruger took the owner of a truck and cattle trailer hostage and drove to Iowa County, according to the sheriff’s office. The cattle trailer was unhooked along a backroad, and the hostage was able to get out of the truck in the city of Dodgeville unharmed. Kruger was later spotted in the Hollendale area, where residents were notified by phone that he was in the area, according to officials.

The pursuit resumed in Ridgeway, according to the sheriff. He said Kruger stole another vehicle from a residence south of Barneveld on County Road F.

DA admits mistake in suspect’s release

Deputies used stop sticks on Highway 18/151 near the town of Blue Mounds, resulting in the crash of the vehicle Kruger was driving. Mahoney said the chase reached 100 mph at times.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the crime spree spanned a number of days and resulted in a number of victims.

“It has to be one of the most dangerous situations I’ve ever been involved in in my 25 years of law enforcement. I’ve never seen a person drive with the intent to elude officers and to get away from somebody like Mr. Kruger,” said Mahoney.

Deputies from Dane, Iowa, Grant, Lafayette counties and an aircraft from the Wisconsin State Patrol were involved in the chase. There was no damage to squad cars or injuries to deputies.

Victims were told by Kruger that he had explosive devices. Authorities said they’re investigating the possibility of an explosive device Kruger might have left in Grant County.

The doors were locked at Barneveld, Mount Horeb and Pecatonica schools as a precaution during the search.

Kruger is a suspect in a Monday stabbing in Madison.

Mahoney said he would expect Kruger to face a number of major violent criminal charges from four counties after the pursuit.