This is the home on Pearl Street over which David Zeatlow allegedly was angry.
This is the home on Pearl Street over which David Zeatlow allegedly was angry.

   A man, allegedly angry that the city of Ripon is planning to tear down a Ripon home, threatened to shoot multiple city of Ripon officials — and now is in jail facing multiple charges.

   David G. Zeatlow, 73, of Fond du Lac was charged today (Wednesday) in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court with a felony count of Terrorist Threats-Interuption of Operations.

   He also is facing two misdemeanor counts of telephone harassment and disorderly conduct.

   If convicted of all three, he could face a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $12,000 fine.

   Zeatlow made his initial appearance today and as of this writing remains incarcerated in Fond du Lac County Jail pending him posting a $500 cash bond — which could happen this afternoon.

   According to the criminal complaint, Zeatlow allegedly made a series of threats while on the phone Monday with Gov. Scott Walker’s office about city of Ripon officials.

   City of Ripon Police Chief Bill Wallner learned of the situation Monday upon receiving a call from the Wisconsin Capitol Police Department.

   During that call, Wallner was told that the governor’s office “indicated that they had a male subject that had made some threats against City of Ripon officials ... [The governor’s office] had received a message from a male subject who identified himself as David Zeatlow ...”

   A member of the governor’s staff then called Zeatlow back, who stated that he “wished the Governor’s office to become involved in a matter involving Zeatlow’s property in the city of Ripon. Specifically that the City of Ripon was going to be tearing down his residence on his property and he wished for the Governor to become involved in that and prevent that from happening ...”

   According to the complaint, Zeatlow went on to describe a “dispute” he was involved in with the city regarding the property.

   Online court records show that Zeatlow has been cited for a “health nuisance” three times last fall.

   Records also show that Zeatlow was denied a restraining order against the city of Ripon “and finds that City of Ripon is entitled to proceed under the Order to Raze that was properly served on all parties and recorded on March 20, 2018 in the Office of the Register of Deeds for Fond du Lac County.”

   When told by the governor’s office this was a local matter, Zeatlow allegedly began making threats.

   “Zeatlow then talked about shooting local officials over the matter and specifically identified the mayor and other city officials,” according to the complaint.

   The matter then was handed over to Capitol Police, which notified the city of Ripon.

   Ripon City Hall then was locked down, and extra patrols were dispatched to the residences of City Administrator Lori Rich, Mayor Gary Will and City Attorney Lud Wurtz, who were directly involved in the case regarding Pearl Street home.

   Ripon council members also were advised of the situation and asked to take precautions.

   Later that day, Investigator Jesse Tipton and a detective met with Zeatlow at his residence, currently listed as an apartment in Fond du Lac, and questioned the suspect regarding his statements.

   Zeatlow allegedly defended them.

   According to the criminal complaint, Zeatlow stated, “If somebody is there and they are stealing what am I supposed to do? Pat them on the back and let them take it?”

   He allegedly acknowledged that he’d been receiving citations from the city of Ripon, and stated, “I wouldn’t give the city of Ripon the time of day. They are so cotton-picking crooked ...”

   When told he would be taken into custody, Zeatlow indicated he was fine with it, the complaint states, since it would get him into the newspaper “and that he wanted to be in the paper about this.”

   At today’s hearing, the Fond du Lac County district attorney’s office requested a $5,000 to 10,000 cash bail.

   Instead, the court ordered $500 cash bail with the following conditions:

  • No contact with any city of Ripon employees, Will, Rich or Wurtz,
  • No possession of firearms.

   He will be allowed necessary, third-party contact with city officials related to the legal issues related to the Pearl Street home.

For a more complete story, with additional interviews, see the July 26, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.