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Man shoots wife in Bancroft; suspect apprehended

On June 3, at approximately 10:52 a.m., the Portage County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received a 911 call from a residence in the 8300 block of Division Street in the unincorporated Village of Bancroft, Town of Pine Grove.

The caller initially said that she believed that Larry Sanchez had collapsed and was having a medical problem on her back porch, but due to a physical disability, the caller was unable to check. Portage County Ambulance and Bancroft-Pine Grove Emergency Medical responders were immediately dispatched to the scene.

A second 911 call came into the Communications Center at approximately 10:58 a.m. This caller said that Larry Sanchez had called her and that he claimed that he had shot his astringed wife, Lisa Sanchez, 47. This was quickly confirmed when Larry’s son verified that it was indeed Larry’s wife who had been shot. Deputies were then dispatched to the scene.

Conflicting reports to the Communications Center indicated that Larry may be in his home, which was next door, or may have left the area, possibly on foot or possibly in a pick-up truck. He was believed to be armed, at a minimum, with a handgun. EMS was forced to stage near-by until law enforcement could make the area safe for them. The first deputy arrived in Bancroft at approximately 11:14 a.m. and started to secure the scene, still unsure where Larry was.

A perimeter was established around Larry’s home, and County Highway W through Bancroft was closed. Deputies and paramedics formed a “Rescue Task Force” to check on the victim and ensure Larry was not in the neighboring home. Officers and paramedics had recently implemented and trained on this rescue task force technique, where law enforcement and EMS work together to enter dangerous situations and tend to any injured parties.

The task force made entry into the neighbor’s home, cleared the building, and paramedics determined that the victim was indeed deceased.

In addition to deputies responding to the scene, officers from the Stevens Point and Plover Police Departments also responded to assist with the perimeter, traffic control, and a possible search for Larry. Several State Patrol Inspectors and Troopers were conducting commercial vehicle enforcement activities around Coloma, and responded to the scene as well, taking over traffic control duties.

Several jurisdictions happened to be conducting joint K-9 training in Stevens Point, and were sent to the scene for a possible search for Larry, who was believed to possibly be on foot in the area. Besides the two K-9 teams from Portage County, teams from Marathon County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Kronenwetter, Marshfield, and Everest Metro Police Departments all assisted.

The nearby Bancroft Elementary School was put in lock-down, and subsequently evacuated after a law enforcement presence was established at that location. A pending 4-K graduation ceremony had to be relocated to the school in the nearby Village of Almond as a precaution.

The Sheriff’s Office was able to confirm that Larry Sanchez was indeed inside of his home. Sporadic contact was established with Larry, who refused to surrender to deputies. The Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team was deployed to the scene, consisting of tactical operators and crisis negotiators.

The Village of Plover Police Department arrived with their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which was used to search the vicinity, map the scene, and provide real-time intelligence as to the area surrounding Larry’s home. The UAV was able to hover over the home and use its high definition camera to quickly scan the scene and potentially identify threats to officers.

It was believed that Larry had access to several weapons, including high-powered rifles. Deputies began to evacuate nearby residences and businesses. In addition, they deployed their armored rescue vehicle, which was able to go from residence to residence and load people into the relative safety of the passenger compartment, and deliver them to the staging area. At one point, the rescue vehicle was able to deploy another rescue task force consisting of both deputies and paramedics to a residence to retrieve a disabled woman, along with her adult daughter and her pre-school aged son.

Tactical officers from the Special Response Team, reinforced by several K-9 teams, replaced patrol officers on the perimeter of Larry’s home. Crisis negotiators were able to reestablish contact with Larry, but after several attempts, he refused to exit the home and surrender, and hung up – refusing to answer his phone.

Shielded by the armored rescue vehicle, deputies used a public address system to order Larry out of his home, and warned him that if he failed to do so, law enforcement tactics would be employed in which Larry’s safety could no longer be guaranteed. Larry continued to refuse to exit and surrender. The Bancroft-Pine Grove Fire Department was then put on stand-by.

After several warnings, tactical officers introduced a combination of pepper spray and tear gas into the home in an attempt to convince Larry to surrender. The armored rescue vehicle was then driven directly in front of a window Larry was believed to be hiding under.The officers were able to observe Larry, who upon seeing the vehicle and feeling the effects of the gas, came out of his home and surrendered to deputies without further incident.

Larry is currently being held in the Portage County Jail on first degree intentional homicide as well as homicide by intoxicated use of a firearm charges. He is believed to be the only suspect in the incident, and there is no danger to the public. A motive is still unknown.

The Portage County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Portage County Coroner’s Office and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Lab, are still actively investigating the situation. An autopsy was scheduled for June 4. Investigators continue to process the scene and collect evidence.