(First published in the October 10, 2019 issue of City Pages)
A shooting in a cemetery leaves a city in mourning
Police at the scene of the shooting the morning of Thursday, Oct. 3 at Pine Grove Cemetery. Cemetery General Manager Patricia Grimm was shot and killed, and two others were shot and hospitalized.
Wausau police officers and other assisting agencies took just 12 minutes to round up a suspect Thursday morning after dispatch received a call reporting gunshots at the Pine Grove Cemetery on Grand Avenue. That call followed an earlier one reporting a fire in Schofield.
But by then, the damage was done. One person found dead on the scene, two others were shot and taken to the hospital, and the Wausau area once again found itself dealing with a multi-victim shooting, leaving a community in disbelief and mourning.
Police on Thursday morning arrested Henry Victor West, a 64-year-old Schofield man. According to police reports, West is suspecting of having set fire to his apartment on Fullmer Street in Schofield before heading to Pine Grove Cemetery, where police say he shot and killed 52-year-old Patricia Grimm, the general manager of the cemetery. He also is alleged to have shot 60-year-old William Buhse of Wausau, Pine Grove’s foreman, and 70-year-old Rosemelia Short of Wausau, related to an employee of the cemetery. Both were transported to a hospital following the shooting. Short was treated for injuries and has since been released. Buhse remained in the hospital in critical condition as of Monday, the most recent police update.
A police investigation shows West was a former employee of Pine Grove Cemetery who left its employ in 2012, not of his own accord, and harboring resentment toward the cemetery, police reports say. Police also say a judgment of eviction was entered Oct. 1 against West, though he was still living at his Fullmer Street apartment at the time of the incident.
West is being held on a cash bond of $1 million, facing charges of first degree intentional homicide and two counts of attempted first degree intentional homicide. Defense counsel for West told a judge Friday they reserve argument on bond for a future court date. He is slated to appear again Oct. 18.
Arguments for probable cause, oddly, were submitted to a judge in writing Friday, apparently stipulated to by the defense as well. Nothing was read aloud, as is the usual procedure for court proceedings.
Police are still investigating the incident, now with help from the Department of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin State Patrol and other agencies. There will be more evidence processed, witnesses interviewed and search warrants executed, police says.
The Board of Directors of the Wausau Cemetery Association, which oversees Pine Grove, said in a statement that they can’t adequately express their grief over losing Grimm, and expressed the board’s concern for Buhse and Short. “Patty was passionate about Pine Grove Cemetery and its long history in Wausau. She was compassionate, gracious, vibrant, and a joy for us to work with,” the statement says. “She was also a voice of compassion and comfort to all of the families who met her in their times of sorrow. She cannot be replaced.”