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breaking
Casper police release video of man shooting officer, say second officer provided critical aid to wounded colleague

The Casper Police Department on Wednesday released video of officers Randi Garrett and Jacob Carlson engaging in a Sunday shootout in east Casper that left a man dead and Carlson severely wounded.

Garrett, a two-year veteran of the force, was not injured in the gunfight. Her coworker, Carlson, was struck by at least five bullets and remains at Wyoming Medical Center after suffering major injuries. The shooter, 38-year-old David P. Wolosin of Casper, died at the scene.

Garrett provided critical first aid to Carlson following the gunfight, Police Chief Keith McPheeters told reporters at a Wednesday news conference. Carlson remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon as he underwent a six-hour surgery. The surgery was proceeding better than expected, the chief said.

Reached through her attorney, Garrett said she was not ready to speak about the shootout.

“I want to thank the community for the outpouring of support,” Garrett said. “Please focus your prayers on my friend and fellow officer fighting for his life.”

McPheeters released video footage captured by a camera system mounted on the dash of Garrett’s vehicle. No audio was captured by the system.

The video below depicts the shooting. It may not be appropriate for all readers.

The shootout took place after police responded to a vehicle complaint near Fairdale Park on Sunday afternoon. McPheeters said officers had been called to the park because a 3-year-old was driving a car, with Wolosin in the passenger’s seat. Police have said Wolosin unexpectedly drew a gun and fired on officers.

In the video released at Wednesday’s press conference, Garrett arrives before Carlson at the dirt lot. After Garrett walks down a hill and spoke with Wolosin briefly, Carlson arrives and joined the two. Wolosin slowly walks backwards past the trunk of the car, effectively keeping both officers in front of him. When Carlson steps toward Wolosin and attempts to grab him, the man draws a gun and fires as he moves back. Carlson appears to return fire as he falls to the ground. Wolosin falls down and Carlson crawls behind the car.

Children can be seen moving inside the vehicle while the officers crouch behind the wheels. At some points, Garrett can be seen reaching toward the passenger side window of the sedan. The two officers take turns standing to fire over the hood and trunk of the car, and then tuck behind the wheels of the vehicle for cover.

Two more officers enter the frame holding long guns and Garrett walks toward the spot where Wolosin lies. She makes a kicking motion and bends at the waist before returning behind the vehicle to huddle around Carlson with other officers.

Garrett opens the passenger side door and helps the children out of the car and they run up a hill to their parents, who embrace them. The Star-Tribune did not include this part of the video on its website in an attempt to protect the identities of the underage children.

Police officials have turned over the inquiry to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, as is typical when police officers are involved in a shooting.

McPheeters said he was unaware of many of the details of the investigation, but offered what he characterized as his opinion on the events shown. The chief said the two officers acted heroically.

During the gunfight, Garrett was reaching toward the window to hold a child’s hand in an attempt to comfort them, McPheeters said. The police chief also said he believed Wolosin had attempted to flee. When officers tried to detain him, he began firing. Carlson was shot and wounded almost immediately after Wolosin began firing, McPheeters said.

“The only person endangering the children was the suspect,” McPheeters said. “There was no reason for the officers to believe that this was going to end up in a life or death experience.”

On Tuesday, DCI Commander Matt Waldock declined to comment on specifics of the investigation.

A lawyer representing the two officers involved in the shootout said Monday afternoon that Wolosin drew his gun when police tried to stop him from walking away. Carlson was shot in the back while seeking cover, Don Fuller said.

Waldock likewise declined to comment on Fuller’s description of the shootout.

Witnesses at the scene of the shootout Sunday told the Star-Tribune that Wolosin had been teaching children to drive when police confronted him. None of the four neighbors who spoke to the Star-Tribune were able to describe what took place just before the shootout began.

On Tuesday, about 500 people attended a rally in Conwell Park, across the street from the hospital where Carlson is being treated, in support of the injured officer. After the department disclosed that multiple shipments of blood were brought in to Wyoming Medical Center due to Carlson’s extensive injuries, Casper’s United Blood Services clinic received a flood of donations. That outpouring of support continued online, with a GoFundMe.com fundraiser collecting more than $55,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday’s incident is the second police shooting in east Casper in just over two months. In late February, police shot and killed a man carrying a sword after he threatened a clerk at a gas station on 15th Street and Wyoming Boulevard. Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen cleared the two officers who were involved and concluded the man, Douglas Oneyear, provoked the confrontation in an effort to end his life. Fuller represented the officers involved in that shooting.

Oneyear’s family maintains the officers could have resolved the situation without killing him.


Casper
Study finds no shortage of parking spots in Casper, but better management needed

There isn’t a shortage of parking spaces in Casper’s core, but the ones that exist need better management.

That was the conclusion from a nearly five month parking study of the city’s urban center, Metropolitan Planning Supervisor Aaron Kloke told the City Council at Tuesday’s work session.

The $80,000 study, which was coordinated by the Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, was authorized by the City Council last June.

There are 8,100 parking spaces in the city’s urban center — which encompasses downtown, the Old Yellowstone District and the area surrounding City Hall — including 1,512 on-street parking spaces, 509 public off-street spaces and 6,079 private off-street spaces. Based on Casper’s population, Kloke said this should be a sufficient amount.

But many residents who were surveyed said they prefer to park directly in front of establishments because they don’t feel safe walking in the city’s center. The parking garage is also considered dangerous and confusing.

“It’s about perception,” said Kloke, who suggested investing in ways to make the area more inviting for pedestrians.

The supervisor also explained that existing parking rules need to be regularly enforced: Only about 62 percent of parking ticket fines are ever collected.

“One of the things we need to address is ensuring that we collect those fines,” he said.

The study also concludes that hiring a parking manager and creating an advisory committee could be beneficial, but this idea was quickly nixed by Councilman Chris Walsh.

“It has to fall under the police department,” he said, explaining that he didn’t believe there needs to be a new division.

Some City Council members questioned why every fine isn’t collected, but both Walsh, a former police chief, and Councilman Michael Huber, a former judge, said parking tickets are not a top priority for law enforcement.

“You end up spending dollars to chase fines,” said Huber.

The Council did not take any action Tuesday on the recommendations, but the matter will be revisited at a later date.

Kloke said Wednesday that city leaders could add a variety of pedestrian amenities to improve downtown’s image.

Clearer signs, more crosswalks and slower speed limits would likely make the area a more appealing place to walk, and the addition of public artwork and security cameras inside the garage might make it less intimidating.

Kloke encouraged residents to share their opinions on the study’s findings.

“This is their chance to take it all in and give us their feedback,” he said.

Downtown parking has been a divisive issue in recent months.

A few food trucks created controversy when they started routinely parking in the city’s center on Fridays and Saturdays last August. One truck takes up about three parking spots, which has angered some downtown businesses owners who said parking was already too limited.

This has especially created tension between some downtown merchants and the owners of Frontier Brewing Company, who have encouraged the trucks to park in front of the East Second Street brewery.

Shawn Houck, Frontier’s co-owner, previously told the Star-Tribune that he doesn’t understand why the issue is controversial.

“We have a parking garage half a block away,” he said.

But Charlie T’s Pizzeria owner Duane Jensen previously said that many of his customers dislike the garage and will simply go elsewhere if they can’t find a space by his restaurant.

The city’s leaders have struggled for months to find a solution that appeases both sides.

The City Council ultimately tabled a proposed ordinance regulating mobile vendors prior to its second vote last month. Council members said at the time they wanted to wait until the parking study was completed.

The proposed ordinance, which needs to pass three rounds of voting to take effect, will be discussed again by the Council later this month.


Ap
AP
Freed detainees head home for big welcome

WASHINGTON — Freed after more than a year in prison, three Americans flew homeward from North Korea late Wednesday toward a big middle-of-the-night celebration featuring President Donald Trump — the latest sign of improving relations between longtime adversaries in the buildup to a historic summit between Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Trump promised "quite a scene" at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington for the detainees, who were released as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea on Wednesday to finalize plans for the summit. Singapore was the likely site, late this month or in early June, for Trump's most ambitious foreign policy effort yet.

Shortly after they touched down on American soil in Alaska — for a refueling stop Wednesday afternoon— the State Department released a statement from the freed men.

"We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home," they said. "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."

The men had boarded Pompeo's plane out of North Korea without assistance and then transferred in Japan to a separate aircraft with more extensive medical facilities. They are expected to arrive at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington early this morning.

Trump made a point of publicly thanking North Korea's leader for the prisoners' release — "I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this" — and hailed it as a sign of cooling tensions and growing opportunity on the Korean peninsula. Kim decided to grant amnesty to the three Americans at the "official suggestion" of the U.S. president, said North Korea's official news agency, KCNA.

North Korea had accused Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, all Korean-Americans, of anti-state activities. Their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation's nuclear weapons.

Trump entered office as an emboldened North Korea developed new generations of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of hitting the continental U.S. Those advances were the subject of President Barack Obama's starkest warning shortly before Trump took office, and this is a crisis he's convinced his negotiating skills can resolve.

Crediting himself for recent progress, Trump has pointed to Kim's willingness to come to the negotiating table as validating U.S. moves to tighten sanctions — branded "maximum pressure" by the president. The wee-hours ceremony today was to be an early celebration for an issue that has already put the prospect of a Nobel Peace Prize on Trump's mind.

"Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it," he said Wednesday when asked if the award was deserved.

The release capped a dramatic day of diplomacy in Pyongyang. After Pompeo's 90-minute meeting with Kim Jong Un, he gave reporters a fingers-crossed sign when asked about the prisoners as he returned to his hotel. It was only after a North Korean emissary arrived a bit later to inform him that the release was confirmed.

The three had been held for periods ranging from one and two years. They were the latest in a series of Americans who have been detained by North Korea in recent years for seemingly small offenses and typically freed when senior U.S. officials or statesmen personally visited to bail them out.

The last American to be released before this, college student Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the U.S. with severe brain damage.

Warmbier was arrested by North Korean authorities in January 2016, accused of stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the government of torturing and killing their son.

"We are happy for the hostages and their families," the Warmbiers said in a statement Wednesday. "We miss Otto."

Of the newly released detainees, Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born U.S. citizen, had been held the longest. The former Virginia resident was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage. He reportedly ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, a special economic zone on North Korea's border with Russia.

The other two detainees hadn't been tried.

Kim Hak Song worked in agricultural development at an experimental farm run by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST. The university is the only privately funded college in North Korea and was founded in 2010 with donations from Christian groups. He was detained last May for alleged anti-state activities.

Tony Kim, who also uses the name Kim Sang-duk, was detained in April 2017 at the Pyongyang airport. He taught accounting at PUST. He was accused of committing unspecified criminal acts intended to overthrow the government.

The family of Tony Kim thanked all those who worked for his return and also credited Trump for engaging directly with North Korea. "Mostly we thank God for Tony's safe return," the family said in a statement.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer celebrated the detainees' return but warned that "we'll see many more hostages" if the administration provides an incentive for imprisoning Americans.

"We are happy they've returned, but North Korea shouldn't gain by taking Americans and then releasing them," he said.

During his visit, Pompeo discussed the agenda for a potential Trump-Kim Jong Un summit. Pompeo said the summit is scheduled to last one day but could be extended by a day depending on how talks progress.


Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune  

A train transports coal on Aug. 27 from a mine south of Gillette. Wyoming and five other states filed a legal brief Tuesday arguing Washington is violating the Constitution by barring a West Coast coal export terminal. 


Casper Police Department  

Casper Police Officer Jacob Carlson 


Education
TEACHER WORK STOPPAGES
As teacher work stoppages spread, prospect appears unlikely in Wyoming

A teacher strike or work stoppage in Wyoming is unlikely, said the president of the state’s education association, even as educators in Colorado and elsewhere have taken to the streets and state capitals to protest their pay and working conditions.

“There’s no appetite for it, that I know of, in Wyoming,” Kathy Vetter said Tuesday. “I haven’t heard of anything, and I don’t expect to.”

Wyoming is less than two months removed from another legislative session that focused heavily on education spending and how much — not whether — to cut. The state’s schools are still in a significant funding hole, albeit a shallower one than they faced last year.

Lawmakers passed a bill in March to cut schools by more than $25 million over the next two years — with the bulk coming in the second year. That comes after two previous rounds of cuts, totaling as much as $77 million.

Still, Vetter said, her organization — which says it represents more than 6,300 teachers here — was relatively happy with the result from this session. While educators didn’t want cuts at all, the total could’ve been steeper.

Wyoming has kept its schools well funded in recent years, Vetter said. Unlike in some of the states where protests have spread, Wyoming teachers are well paid — 16th in the nation, with an average salary of $58,187 in 2017. In Colorado, the average salary was $51,808 last year, and in West Virginia, where the wave of teacher walkouts began earlier this year, it’s $45,555.

“If the Legislature will appropriately fund education into the future, we won’t have to worry about this because we have had education as a priority,” Vetter said. The other states — Colorado, Arizona, West Virginia — paid their teachers less and had other problems, like West Virginia’s rising health insurance costs.

There’s also been a philosophical reason why Wyoming teachers may not be headed for a walkout anytime soon. While the work stoppages in other states were led by teachers’ unions and associations, action here has historically been led by the school districts.

“We work very well with our administrators and our school boards,” she said. “We don’t have the animosity that we see in other states between” teachers and administrators.

In years past, districts have taken the lead in fighting for funding through lawsuits. The current funding system was established through a series of Wyoming Supreme Court decisions stretching back to the mid-1990s known as the Campbell Decisions. The name comes from the Campbell County School District, one of the plaintiffs in the case. Before that, the Washakie County School District’s state supreme court decision had a similarly seismic shift on Wyoming education.

While there doesn’t seem to be a strong prospect of a work stoppage here, Vetter said she was happy to see the positive responses in other states where teachers have walked out.

“They really had the public support behind them,” she said. “Teachers and school employees that were with them, the whole community joined in, businesses gave them money, they donated food, they donated money to cover different things. I’m not surprised (by their success) when they had such wide support for the community and parents.”

Asked whether the success of the actions elsewhere had provided a blueprint to Wyoming educators, Vetter said she hadn’t thought about it.

“But it certainly has worked everywhere they’ve done it,” she said. “It has had a positive effect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen more and more throughout the United States. ... Our funding system (in Wyoming) is a lot better than most states. As long as we adequately fund the system that we have, we’re going to be OK.”