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Wis. man who stabbed deputies had schizophrenia

The man who stabbed 2 officers Thursday had schizophrenia and had been contacted numerous times in the past by police

By Dennis Punzel
The Wisconsin State Journal

PRIMROSE, Wis. — The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office has identified the man shot by a deputy Thursday in the town of Primrose as Dean A. Caccamo, 50. A preliminary autopsy showed Caccamo died of a single gunshot.

The man who was shot and killed by a Dane County deputy during a confrontation Thursday in the town of Primrose had schizophrenia and had been contacted numerous times in the past by officers, Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Friday.

The man was wearing a bulletproof vest when he stabbed Lt. Brian Hayes and Deputy Roger Finch in the legs as they descended a spiral staircase to the basement of the home at 233 Hanna Road, Mahoney said.

The sheriff said the man was living there with his mother and stepfather. Deputies found the elderly couple at the residence with significant injuries from having been beaten.

Mahoney said the officers tried to apprehend the son with a variety of weapons — first a gun firing bean bags and then Tasers, pepper spray and batons — before resorting to lethal force.

Deputy James Kelley fired one shot that struck the man near his collarbone and then entered his chest, Mahoney said.

Finch was released from UW Hospital on Friday, but Mahoney said that Hayes would remain hospitalized for a few more days because he suffered more serious injuries.

Mahoney said the man who was fatally shot had "longstanding schizophrenia and was an individual we had interacted with for many years."

Town of Primrose clerk Jamie Baker said the occupants of the home were Rosemary and Robert Hansen, and Rosemary's son, Dean.

Melody Hansen, the sister of Robert Hansen, learned of the shooting from a reporter Friday. Dean, whom Melody Hansen said may have been in his 30s or perhaps older, is Rosemary Hansen's son by a previous marriage and had a long history of mental illness, she said.

"They couldn't have people in their home with Dean there," said Melody Hansen, 69, who lives in Illinois.

"He kind of lived in the basement, but even if they had repairmen in, they would have to be very careful because Dean would become very confrontational with strangers," she said.

The Hansens took Dean into their home after he began having serious mental health issues and went through a divorce in the Chicago area, Melody Hansen said.

Last year he was in state care in Wisconsin for one or two months "because he was getting to be too much to handle in the home," said Melody Hansen, who said she speaks with Robert, 70, every Sunday by phone.

"Because of (Dean's) escalating behavior, they were trying to work something out for him to get more controlled — because they were afraid of him," she said.

While he was in state care, the Hansens visited him every week, she said. But it was difficult for his mother to see him medicated and in a group home, she said, "So they ended up taking him back into the home."

Dionne Babler, a neighbor who rents cropland from the Hansens, said they were private people, but it was well known among nearby residents that Dean had a mental illness.

"We knew he had problems," Babler said.

Babler said he'd had only one encounter with Dean, and it scared him.

"He was a guy I knew I didn't want to be around," he said.

The investigation into the shooting is being led by investigators from the city of Madison and Sun Prairie, assisted by officers from Fitchburg and UW Police, as well as the Sheriff's Office, Mahoney said.

The sheriff said he was confident his officers followed proper procedure.

"I know our deputies responded as they were trained," Mahoney said.

"They attempted to use every means possible to take this individual, who they were acquainted with, into custody and try to stop his assault with the least force necessary," Mahoney said.

"It was only after two deputies received very significant injuries and the fight continued that they feared for their safety and had to use deadly force."

Mahoney said the deputies responded to a call from the driver of a recycling truck who was going through the area and found the man's mother "who had been brutally beaten" and his step-father, who had suffered serious head injuries.

Mahoney had no update on the condition of the parents, although he did say that they were able to speak with investigators.

"(Thursday's) event was a tragedy for multiple families," Mahoney said. "Certainly, for the families of Lt. Hayes and Deputy Finch, but it was a tragedy also for Deputy Kelley who was forced to use deadly force to finally end what truly was a fight for their lives.

"Our investigators describe the basement of that home as a battleground, that there was clear evidence where the assault occurred with the mother and the stepfather, where they felt fortunate to be alive."

It was also a tragedy for the family, who has struggled with a family member who had mental illness "and because of that mental illness they lost a son (Thursday), and we need to be mindful and sensitive to that."

Mahoney lamented the increasing problem of violence involving persons with mental illness, referencing another officer-involved shooting Wednesday in Milwaukee.

"I'm concerned about the level of mental illness in our community," Mahoney said. "We continue to fill our jail with individuals with mental illness and we need to be sensitive to how we care for those individuals in our care."

Copyright 2014 The Wisconsin State Journal

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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