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Suspect who fatally shot retired judge had been sentenced to 6 years in prison by him

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The suspect in the fatal shooting of a retired Wisconsin judge and the alleged creator of an apparent hit list targeting prominent politicians had been sentenced to six years in prison by the slain judge in 2005, according to court records.

John Roemer, a former Juneau County Circuit Court judge, was found dead in his home in the Township of New Lisbon on Friday morning, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. A senior law enforcement official said Roemer had been bound with zip ties.

Judge John Roemer (Tom Loucks / Daily Tribune via AP)
Judge John Roemer (Tom Loucks / Daily Tribune via AP)

The suspect, Douglas K. Uhde, 56, suffered an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and was hospitalized. He remains in critical condition, the department said.

It was not clear on Sunday whether Uhde had retained an attorney.

Roemer sentenced Uhde to six years in prison in 2005 on a charge of armed burglary with a dangerous weapon, according to Wisconsin Circuit Court records. Uhde pleaded guilty to the charge, as well as to charges of carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a short-barreled shotgun rifle and being a felon in possession of a firearm, records show.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who might have been one of the politicians on Uhde's alleged hit list, called Roemer's killing "abhorrent to our judiciary," according to NBC affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee.

“I mean, the idea that, as I said before, a judge from a rural county is targeted and murdered, it’s just abhorrent to our judiciary and to leadership in our state and our county,” Evers said. “It’s a horrible situation. I grieve for him. I grieve for his family. And God, we can do better than this in Wisconsin."

Deputies were called to Roemer's home around 6:30 a.m. on a report that an armed person was present and two shots had been fired. The caller had left the home and contacted the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office from a nearby residence, according to police.

Authorities tried to negotiate with Uhde, who was still in the home, but their attempts were unsuccessful, the department said. A response team entered around 10:17 a.m. and found Roemer’s body in the basement.

A senior law enforcement official said the judge was tied up with zip ties. A firearm was found at the scene, the department said.

Roemer, 68, was targeted by the gunman, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Attorney General Josh Kaul said at a news conference that Uhde “appears to have had other targets” but declined to identify them.

“It appears to be related to the judicial system,” he said. “At this point, we are not aware of any evidence indicating that there is any active danger to other individuals. Those who may have been other targets have been notified of that.”

Two senior law enforcement officials briefed on the incident said the apparent hit list included U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Evers and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The list was found as Uhde was being transported to the hospital, the law enforcement officials said.

Whitmer’s office said it was notified by law enforcement about the list but could not comment further.

“Governor Whitmer has demonstrated repeatedly that she is tough, and she will not be bullied or intimidated from doing her job and working across the aisle to get things done for the people of Michigan,” her office said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Evers said his office didn't comment "on specific security threats or the governor’s security detail.”

The U.S. Capitol Police were notified about the threat against McConnell.

Roemer was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2010 and 2016, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said Saturday. He retired in 2017.

He also served as an assistant district attorney for Juneau County, and an assistant state public defender, as well as a lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Army Reserves.