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Wounded Casper police officer's condition improves

The medical condition of Casper police officer Jacob Carlson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds in a shootout on Sunday, is improving, the police department said Thursday.

Carlson underwent a successfully surgery on Wednesday. Chief Keith McPheeters said the latest surgery had been scheduled to last six hours.

Doctors planned to let Carlson, an Army veteran who’s been with the department for three years, rest Thursday in anticipation of more surgeries on Friday.

“His condition is improving, but still has a long way to go,” the police department stated in a Thursday morning social media post.

A Casper clinic, meanwhile, will host a blood drive Saturday in honor of the police officer who suffered major injuries Sunday in an east Casper shootout.

United Blood Services clinic announced that it took in 48 units of blood on Wednesday as donors continued to flood the clinic following news that Carlson had been injured. More than twice the typical number of donors appeared.

After the police department disclosed that multiple shipments of blood were brought to Wyoming Medical Center due to the extent of Carlson’s injuries, Casper’s United Blood Services clinic experienced a spike in donations on Monday.

Medical staff have used more than 100 units of blood and blood products in treating the wounded officer, who was struck by five bullets in the shootout. One round hit Carlson in the lower waist and damaged a major artery, Chief Keith McPheeters said Tuesday.

The shootout took place at about 1:40 p.m. in a dirt lot adjacent to Fairdale Park in east Casper. Carlson and Officer Randi Garrett had responded to a report of a man allowing a 3-year-old to drive a car. Video footage taken by a camera system in Garrett’s police car captured the shooting. It shows the man, 38-year-old David P. Wolosin, backing away slowly as the officers talk to him. When Carlson steps toward Wolosin and attempts to grab him, Wolosin draws a gun and fires. Police return fire and Wolosin falls to the ground.

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is examining the shooting.

The blood drive is scheduled for to run from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. at Yellowstone Garage, located at 355 West Yellowstone Highway. Donors can schedule appointments in advance by calling 307-638-3326 or visiting Donors will also be able to give blood on a walk-in basis.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune 

A fly fishing guide and his client float under the Wyoming Boulevard bridge Thursday afternoon in Mills. Thunderstorms in the forecast through the weekend will break the recent sunny streak. 

Wyoming GOP county chair shares article comparing gay activists to Nazis during Holocaust

A Republican Party official in Wyoming shared an article on social media last month comparing gay activists to Nazis and stating that Christians are facing the same plight as Jews murdered in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Vicki Kissack, chairman of the Campbell County Republican Party, shared the article, “Face facts: The LGBTQ movement wants to destroy Christianity,” publicly on her Facebook page and excerpted the passage drawing a parallel to the Holocaust.

“Jews at Auschwitz passively marched into gas chambers to their death because the Nazis deceived them into believing they were being taken to the showers,” the excerpt that Kissack shared read in part. “Christians are passively allowing LGBTQ activists to steal the hearts and minds of their children, drive followers of Christ out of business, and threaten pastors with jail time for quoting the Bible. Deceived by the LGBTQ movement, Christians are passively marching to the death of Christianity.”

The myth of Jewish passivity during the Holocaust has been largely disputed by historians, who note a variety of armed and unarmed resistance by European Jews under Nazi control, as well as various obstacles standing in the way of the type of large-scale uprising that might have been expected in hindsight.

The article was written by conservative pundit Lloyd Marcus and ostensibly focused on a bill in the California Legislature that would categorize the promotion of conversion therapy, which seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation, as consumer fraud.

Kissack has shared several other posts on her Facebook page about the legislation, which some Christian and conservative news websites claim would allow California to ban Bibles or otherwise persecute religious residents of the state.

Kissack created the Facebook post on April 29. She did not respond to emails and a voicemail seeking comment.

Post found offensive

Gillette resident and Wyoming Equality volunteer Hank Pridgeon said the comparison made in the article was inappropriate and that Kissack needed to apologize.

“I’m a Christian and I’m gay,” Pridegon said. “How dare she make a statement like that? That offends me.”

Kissack’s post comes on the heels of controversial comments made by former Fremont County Republican Party chairman John Birbari on his Riverton-based radio show. During a segment on April 25, Birbari questioned whether Riverton High School was promoting a “destructive” homosexual lifestyle by allowing LGBT-friendly artwork in its hallways.

Birbari was suspended by the radio station, according to two published reports.

Pridgeon said Kissack’s sharing of the article was an example of the ways in which members of the LGBT community do not feel welcome in the Republican Party.

“How can you compare the LGBT population to the Nazis ... that’s a pretty radical statement and totally out of place,” he said. “Come on, it’s 2018. It’s comments like that that are burying the Republican Party.”

“It’s kind of ironic, because I am a Republican,” Pridegon added.

Wyoming GOP chairman W. Frank Eathorne did not respond to an email and voicemail regarding Kissack and Birbari’s comments.

Follow-ups soften stance

In a comment on her post sharing the article, Kissack offered a softer take on the relationship between Christians and the LGBT community.

“I have friends and family who live homosexual lifestyles and some who are atheist,” Kissack wrote. “(W)e sometimes have colorful discussions, we always challenge each other and yet we choose to remain friends. Why? Because we respect each other and we respect each other’s beliefs.”

Kissack has made several other controversial posts on her public Facebook page this year. She shared one comparing the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians to legal abortions in the United States. In another, she shared an article that falsely claimed the Federal Drug Administration had discovered that vaccines cause autism.

Another post compared Florida high school student David Hogg, a school shooting survivor who has received national attention as an advocate for control, to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. In March, she shared a photo of the shoes belonging to Jewish victims of the Nazis with a caption that claimed the Holocaust was enabled by gun control.


Campbell County Republican Chairman Vicki Kissack shared an image on her public Facebook page comparing Flordia high school student and school shooting survivor to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

“Sometimes I post hot-button topics just to see what the pulse of my community is,” Kissack wrote on Facebook earlier this year.

Ahead of the legislative session this year, Kissack questioned a bill that would have made it easier for grandparents or other caregivers to retain custody of children whose parents lost control due to substance abuse or incarceration.

“With the war on recognizing only two genders and men being named fathers and women being named mothers, we must not be deceived what some legislatures motives are behind this bill!” Kissack wrote, stating that she wanted a definition of “third-party caregivers.”

Kissack took over as chair of the Campbell County Republican Party in January, after former chair Doug Gerard resigned to support Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman’s campaign for governor, according to the Gillette News Record. Kissack previously served as vice chair.

“I am extremely driven by honor and duty and integrity with this seat,” Kissack told the News Record at the time. “I take it very seriously.”

N. Korea summit set, detainees free

WASHINGTON — Envisioning "a very special moment for world peace," President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un for highly anticipated summit talks in Singapore on June 12. He set the stage for his announcement by hosting a 3 a.m., made-for-TV welcome home for three Americans held by Kim's government.

"We welcomed them back home the proper way," Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Indiana Thursday evening.

Final details in place, Trump and Kim agreed to the first face-to-face North Korea-U.S. summit since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. It's the most consequential and perhaps riskiest foreign policy effort so far in Trump's presidency as North Korea's nuclear program approaches a treacherous milestone — the capacity to strike the continental U.S. with a thermonuclear warhead.

Trump says the U.S. is aiming for "denuclearization" of the entire Korean peninsula, but he has yet to fill in just what steps that might include and what the timing would be.

"We're starting off on a new footing," Trump said of himself and Kim as he welcomed the detainees in a floodlit ceremony at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. He hailed their release as a potential breakthrough in relations between the longtime adversary nations.

He and Kim "will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" he said of the summit later on Twitter. He told his rally crowd, "I think it's going to be a very big success."

Kim has suspended nuclear and missile tests and put his nuclear program up for negotiation, but questions remain about how serious his offer is and what disarmament steps he would be willing to take. The White House has said withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from South Korea is "not on the table."

Long before dawn Thursday, with the former detainees by his side on the air base tarmac, Trump said it was a "great honor" to welcome them back to the U.S. but "the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons."

The ceremony, which also featured a giant American flag suspended between the ladders of two firetrucks, emphasized Trump's penchant for the dramatic as he raised expectations for the summit. And it underscored how closely the fate of his foreign policy agenda is being tied to the North Korean negotiations.

He had wanted to hold the summit in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas but yielded to the concerns of officials who thought a DMZ meeting would focus attention on relations between the North and South rather than the nuclear question.

Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, other top officials and first lady Melania joined the president for the air base celebration. The former detainees — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim — had been released Wednesday at the end of Pompeo's visit to North Korea.

They appeared tired but in excellent spirits, flashing peace signs and waving their arms as they emerged from the aircraft. One said through a translator, "It's like a dream; we are very, very happy." They later gave the president a round of applause.

Pence said Pompeo had told him that at a refueling stop in Anchorage, "one of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn't seen daylight in a very long time." The men were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for evaluation before being reunited with their families.

Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim for releasing the Americans and said, "I really think he wants to do something" on denuclearization.

Pence said on NBC News, "In this moment the regime in North Korea has been dealing, as far as we can see, in good faith."

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who was among several Republican lawmakers who dined with Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton Wednesday evening before the detainees returned, said their release was a positive development, but he remained cautious about North Korea's intentions.

"We are in uncharted waters," he said. "This is the highest level diplomacy that the United States has to offer. Failure would be a significant setback to diplomatic efforts."

As for the venue, why Singapore?

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the country has relationships with both the U.S. and North Korea, meaning both presidents' security — and a sense of neutrality — can be assured.

Located at the southern tip of Malaysia, the prosperous city state is a regional Southeast Asia hub whose free enterprise philosophy welcomes trading partners from everywhere. It has close diplomatic and military ties with the U.S. and yet is also familiar ground for North Korea, with which it established diplomatic relations in 1975.

"Since their independence, they've very deliberately developed a reputation as an honest broker between East and West," said David Adelman, the former U.S. ambassador.

The White House choreographed the arrival event at the air base, the image-conscious president telling reporters, "I think you probably broke the all-time-in-history television rating for 3 o'clock in the morning."

The public display stood in stark contrast to the low-key, private reception that the State Department had envisioned, in keeping with a practice of trying to protect potentially traumatized victims from being thrust into the spotlight so soon after an ordeal.

Shortly after they touched down in Alaska, the department released a statement from the freed men. They expressed their appreciation to Trump, Pompeo and the people of the United States and added: "We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world."

Casper Police Department  

Casper Police Officer Jacob Carlson 

Casper Police Department  

Casper Police Officer Randi Garrett 

Rex Rammell to run as third-party candidate, guaranteeing appearance in general election

Perennial hardline candidate Rex Rammell announced Thursday that he was leaving the crowded Republican primary to instead run for Wyoming governor on the Constitution Party ticket, guaranteeing himself a place on the general election ballot.

Rammell’s move, which he had indicated was a possibility last month, shrinks the GOP primary contest to six candidates and it appears the Republican winner will face presumptive Democratic nominee Mary Throne and Rammell on the November.

Rammell said he believes that moderate voters will carry State Treasurer Mark Gordon to victory in the Republican primary but that more conservative voters will abandon Gordon in the general election.

What has the unexpected entrance of Foster Friess done to the Wyoming governor's race?

Foster Friess became something of a tease for Wyoming politicos starting last fall.Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, freshly ousted from his White House post, was on the prowl for incumbent Republican senators who had failed to demonstrate adequate fealty to President Donald Trump. Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the Senate’s leadership, fell into his crosshairs.

The Rock Springs veterinarian first floated a third-party run in an email to Wyoming Republican Party leadership in April, arguing that the crowded primary made it less likely that the most conservative candidate would win.

Rammell, who has previously run for statewide office in both Wyoming and Idaho, is best known for his aggressive stance on public lands. Rammell said that Wyoming should seize all federal land in the state in order to reap the economic benefits. While Rammell believes that force would likely not be necessary, he said last fall that if the federal government did not turn over the land voluntarily he would order the Wyoming Highway Patrol to take it over and arrest federal employees on the land.

On his revamped campaign website and in a new campaign brochure, Rammell depicts employees of the Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency in black-and-white striped jail uniforms.

Rammell generated controversy during his run for Idaho governor in 2009 when he joked that he would like to issue a hunting tag for then-President Barack Obama.

In an interview Thursday, Rammell said that he anticipated Gordon would win the primary with 30-to-35 percent of the vote, with Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman and Taylor Haynes, a doctor and another perennial candidate, splitting the rural Republican vote and Jackson businessman Foster Friess attracting most of the evangelical voting base.

(He said Cheyenne businessman Sam Galeotos and Sheridan’s Bill Dahlin would be non-factors.)

Rammell believes he can attract many of the voters who back Hageman and Haynes in the primary, setting up a three-way split in the general election that might allow him to sneak into office.

Rammell said that Throne will take Democratic and left-wing voters while Gordon will pick up centrists and conservative voters will be up for grabs.

“If it plays out like I predict, it will be the first race in Wyoming history where there was a clear choice for the left, center and right,” Rammell said in an email. “We are about to see who Wyoming really is!”

Gordon is running on his successful track record in the state treasurer’s office, which has seen improved returns during his two terms, and he says he’s guided by conservative values. However, Rammell pointed to past donations to Democratic candidates as evidence that Gordon is too moderate to draw the most conservative primary or general election voters.

307 Politics: ‘No, Mark’s fine' — Why Gordon's past donations may not matter

Happy Monday! Welcome to all you 307 Politicsers. Is that the right term? Here’s a fun story about demonyms, the word for what you call people from a certain place, or affiliated with a certain group. When I was covering local government for the Star-Tribune, the City of Casper — home of Casperites — hired a new city manager from Gillette. What word, I wondered, should I use to refer to people from that city. A call to city hall was little help, with the friendly woman who answered the phone suggesting “Gillette resident,” which wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I ended up going with “Gilletter,” which my editor ended up vetoing. I checked again last week with the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which didn’t have an answer either. If any readers know the right demonym please let me know at In the meantime, feel free to use my creation.Mark Gordon’s political contributions

Wyoming Republican Party chairman W. Frank Eathorne said last week that he was confident the party base would unify around whoever wins the primary and said that talks were already underway between the campaigns to guarantee that happens.

Rammell acknowledged both in the interview and in his email to Republican leaders that his plan may not work.

“I know many of you will consider me a traitor that might throw the election to the Democrats,” he wrote in the email.

Rammell said that he had been pre-vetted by the Constitution Party, which does not have an open primary, and will be officially confirmed as the party’s nominee at its convention in Lusk this weekend.

The Constitution Party is a far-right third-party with affiliates around the United States. The Wyoming Constitution Party’s website shows a range of policy beliefs that overlap with the Republican Party’s positions, such as opposition to abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act, as well as policies well outside the mainstream, such as opposition to public schools.

The primary election is Aug. 21 and the general election is Nov. 6.