Drone Pilot SchoolDOJ report on July 13 Caledonia rampage: Shooter’s demons unknown to family | Crime and Courts

December 5, 2021by helo-10
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CALEDONIA — The events of July 13 could have been a lot worse. It appears that John McCarthy intended to kill more than just one person.






Racine County Sheriff’s and Caledonia Police officers occupied the Pilot Travel Center parking lot next to Interstate 94 following the killing of Anthony “Nino” Griger on the morning of July 13.



Diana Panuncial



YORKVILLE — The identity of Tuesday morning’s fatal shooting victim at the Pilot Travel Center in Caledonia has been released by the Racine Co…

McCarthy murdered 22-year-old Anthony “Nino” Griger in cold blood at the Pilot Travel Center adjacent to Interstate 94 at 13712 Northwestern Ave., then drove to the Mobil gas station at 10616 Northwestern Ave. in the Franksville area and nearly took the life of an undercover Racine County Sheriff’s Office investigator. The gunfight that ensued lasted mere seconds but included 15 shots. Both McCarthy and the off-duty cop were hit. Then McCarthy put the gun to his head and took his own life.

On his left forearm, written in marker, were the words “LAST BATTLE.”

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling described McCarthy as a “maniac” who nearly became a mass shooter.

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McCarthy’s true intents and motivations will likely never be known. But a 501-page report released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice on Wednesday paints a picture of a disturbed man whose own family was unaware of his demons.

An electrical engineering student who enjoyed building computers and had, according to his father, an “off the charts IQ,” McCarthy attempted to destroy dozens of hard drives by dumping them in blue liquid in his bathtub and may have attempted to set his apartment on fire before leaving home on July 13. Handwritten notes showed violent ideations, videos indicate a possible personality disorder, but no explicit plans of becoming a mass shooter were detailed in the DOJ’s documents. Some information was redacted.

At about 6:43 a.m. on July 13, McCarthy, 32, got in the blue Subaru he borrowed from his mother — his Jeep was disabled — and left his apartment in Hartland. He got on Interstate 94 and drove straight to Caledonia.

It remains a complete mystery why he came to Racine County. A family member told state special agents that the family was “not aware of him knowing anyone in that area and that his job was in Hartland,” 44 miles to the northwest. After the killings, a special agent wrote that investigators were told by the family member that “this is not the John that they know” and that he had no history of self-harm or violence.

Here’s what those 501 pages detailed.

Demons unknown

McCarthy’s father said his son did not show up for work July 13, but that was deemed “not highly unusual.” The father said that McCarthy “was worried about something a few days prior … (He) freaked out … over an old friend from high school trying to get a hold of him recently.”






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One of two photos John McCarthy had of himself that was released by the Department of Justice.




He said his son was medicated, but he didn’t know for what, and that he suffered from anxiety and was very introverted — having been described with a neurodevelopmental disorder, but had never publicly shown indications he might become violent.

Videos were obtained by investigators from cameras found in McCarthy’s vehicle (the one that had been in the shop the day of the shootings). McCarthy appeared to have recorded himself in his apartment, garage, car and “place of employment.”

The videos showed McCarthy talking to himself, sometimes in the third person and using multiple different voices, in what at least one investigator believed could have been a sign of dissociative identity disorder — more commonly known as multiple-personality disorder. The American Psychiatric Associations states that DID symptoms include “the existence of two or more distinct identities — or ‘personality states’. The distinct identities are accompanied by changes in behavior, memory and thinking. The signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual” and that sufferers of DID may experience “ongoing gaps in memory about everyday events, personal information and/or past traumatic events.”

“From the bits and pieces that I observed of the video clips,” an officer wrote, “John McCarthy can be seen and heard throughout the videos. He sometimes gets very agitated and begins to talk to himself. It appears he talks in a few different pitches of voices and talks about himself in the third person, as if other personalities are talking about John.”

McCarthy had no criminal record, but did have a run-in with the law three days before the shootings.

On July 10, he went to a tanning salon, where he acted “in an aggressive manner (toward an 18-year-old female employee) and in a way that caused her to fear for her safety.” He allegedly yelled at her “Take me home!” to which she yelled back “Get away from me!” and ran to the back of the store.

He later admitted “he thought she was attractive.” In a report, a Hartland police officer wrote that McCarthy “admitted that he scared the employee a little bit and that he was sorry. John stated he was not a rapist which I found interesting because I had made no mention or accusations along those lines.” McCarthy was cited for noncriminal disorderly conduct and told to never return to the salon.

Request to replace all locks

Two days later, his mental illness and paranoia seemed apparent when he asked the maintenance worker at his apartment to replace all his locks. Upon being told the cost would be $30 per lock, “John stated he did not care and that he had money,” the handyman told police. The handyman described McCarthy’s behavior that day as “nervous, uppity, and anxious,” but that his locks were replaced before the end of the day.

Of the others who lived in the complex, “all the residents had not heard or seen anything suspicious on this date or recently. The overall opinion of tenants was that … McCarthy kept to himself.”

Even before McCarthy had been identified as the killer in Racine County, Hartland police were at his second-floor apartment in Hartland. The morning of the shooting, the fire alarm in McCarthy’s apartment was pulled despite there not being a fire. The maintenance worker deactivated the alarm and called police, seeking a welfare check for McCarthy.

Inside, officers found a bullet hole in a bathroom mirror. In the bathtub, dozens of computer parts and hard drives were submerged in a blue liquid.

A bomb squad, K-9 and hazardous-materials team swept McCarthy’s apartment within hours of the shootings. They found no causes for alarm. The liquid was deemed not hazardous, although it was “slightly acidic.”

There were piles of boxes and computer parts throughout the apartment, and there were notes and notepads scattered.

“Notepads contained notes that made reference to violence, evil, and guns,” one officer wrote.

In the garage, a state special agent “located a large rectangular corrugated whiteboard that had a large amount of writing on it, to include talk of ‘killing’, ‘stray bullets’, talk of enemies, talking of some women — one in particular named (REDACTED) — and a lot of self-hatred writing. There were dates that accompanied a lot of the various entries on this board.”

On July 15, law enforcement officers searched McCarthy’s Jeep. In it, they found what one agent described as a “rape kit” — not referring to a sexual assault evidence collection kit used by medical professionals, but rather equipment that could be used in a sexual assault. It contained disposable gloves and a box of condoms; a bottle of lubricant also was found in the vehicle.

Also in the Jeep were swim shoes, body cameras, a jab saw and a hand saw, box cutters, bikini bottoms, at least two other packages of condoms, and brass knuckles in the glove compartment.

In the Jeep there was also a hard-to-read handwritten note that included the words “jump rope” and “meet some girls.”

Investigators got access to 54 chat messages, 206 emails, 14 videos, 4,586 texts, 366 audio messages and 11,839 photos on McCarthy’s cellphone. While investigators reported searching for communications and possible accomplices preceding the rampage, investigators said that all of that data was deemed not “pertinent to the investigation” except for “a number of pictures of McCarthy standing in front of a mirror.”

Two of those photos were attached to the report. One of them was a simple headshot showing no emotion.

The other is a photo McCarthy took of himself in a mirror wearing what appears to be a black tank top pulled up near his neck, revealing his full torso, and short shorts. Attached to the mirror are several handwritten notes, which were mostly illegible due to the low quality of the photo, except for the words “SHUT UP.”

Gun ammunition was improperly stored in different spots of the apartment. A spent shell casing was on the floor. On a bedroom wall there was a photo of an unidentified boy with a gun. Also found were a loaded shotgun, an empty case for a long gun, and two ankle holsters for a gun or magazine were found in a garbage can. The refrigerator “had hardly anything inside” and the “freezer was empty.”

The blue liquid was not identified, but it could have been as innocuous as mouthwash mixed with water. What was on the hard drives remains unknown. The report described them as “damaged” and that they were not collected by the Division of Criminal Investigation.

Upon being told his son was dead, McCarthy’s father asked an officer to tell his wife. That officer wrote in his report: “He wouldn’t be able to tell his wife something like this.”

At the Pilot, an employee told investigators that McCarthy entered the gas station, bought a pack of cigarettes, walked out, walked back in, tried to light a cigarette using a candle lighter, was told he could not smoke in the store, then walked out.

He then walked up to Griger, who was on his way to work and filling up his car’s gas tank, and shot him execution-style.

Someone yells “They are fighting!” The employee who sold McCarthy the cigarettes went outside to record what was happening and saw McCarthy rifling through Griger’s pockets. Others hide in the back of the Pilot. Multiple 911 calls are made. One of the men who called had to be pleaded with to stay on the line and provide more information, as he wanted to call his brother to make sure he was OK too.

McCarthy got into Griger’s car, then got out, approached a pickup truck, shot at the driver but missed. The pickup truck sped away. He then got back into his mom’s Subaru and drove away, bouncing over a median and speeding away from law enforcement officers in pursuit.






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A drone photo shows the Mobil gas station at 10616 Northwestern Ave. (Highway K) in the Franksville area of Caledonia after a July 13 gunfight between an undercover Racine County Sheriff’s Office investigator and John McCarthy. The blacked-out area of the photo, where the investigator was injured and where McCarthy shot himself, is one of a number of redactions included in the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s report on the day’s events.




With sirens wailing behind him, he nearly hit another car before coming “to an abrupt full stop” in the parking lot of the Mobil station 2.3 miles southeast of the Pilot.

Stepping out of the car, a witness said that McCarthy had a “defeated” look.(tncms-asset)5e19bf3a-5523-11ec-bfd0-00163ec2aa77[5](/tncms-asset)






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This drone photo shows some of at least 28 evidence markers at the Mobil gas station in Franksville on July 13. A number of redactions, such as this one at center right, were made by the Department of Justice when it made public its investigation of the July 13 shootings in Caledonia; reasons given for the redactions include graphic images and personal identification of the undercover officer, as well as the identities of citizens involved.




At the Mobil, the undercover sheriff’s investigator was filling up his unmarked Ford Explorer. At first, he did not think anything of McCarthy, believing he was just getting out of the way of the police cars behind him. But then the deputy saw McCarthy’s face. He told state investigators later that McCarthy “had an evil, 1,000-yard stare.”

The investigator recalled there was “no way” McCarthy could have suspected he was a cop. His firearm was concealed and his Ford Explorer was unmarked.

McCarthy raised his hands, holding a gun, and pointed it at the deputy.

According to what he told investigators, while admitting his memory was shaky, the deputy said he took evasive action, heard gunshots, and opened fire. He only remembered firing two shots, although shells found recovered indicate he likely fired at least six.

At the scene, 15 9mm casings were found: six identified as “Luger Underwood casings” and nine as “Luger FC casings.”

The deputy said he was not sure if he even hit McCarthy. But then — after the deputy had taken a bullet that broke his pelvis in several places and numerous of McCarthy’s shots missed, embedding themselves in the Ford Explorer — McCarthy “stuck his own gun to his head and pulled the trigger, at which time he went straight down to the ground.”

The investigator, whose name hasn’t been released but has been identified as a former Marine reservist with more two decades of law enforcement experience, suffered multiple gunshot wounds that fractured several bones around his pelvis, the Sheriff’s Office said.

An autopsy found two bullet fragments inside McCarthy.

The deputy said he yelled at McCarthy “to stay down” but then saw he wasn’t moving. “At this time he (the deputy) believed that the subject was deceased … That is when he realized that he had been shot and pain suddenly came rushing in and he started calling for help and stuck his ID out so no responding Police Squads would confuse him with the suspect.”

“I’m a cop! Don’t shoot me!” witnesses and the deputy reported him yelling from the ground. As other first responders approached, he remembers saying to himself: “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!!”

His said his memory faded from here on out. He said he could not tell where he had been shot and did not remember anyone being in the ambulance that took him to Ascension All Saints Hospital, even though Deputy David Fisher was in the ambulance with him and called 911 while in transit.

Upon visiting him at the hospital, Sheriff Schmaling said the only question the deputy asked was “Sheriff, did I hit anybody innocent?”

“That’s what he asked,” Schmaling told the Racine County Board hours after the crisis. “Nothing else. That’s what he asked.”

Records indicate that a Caledonia Police officer was just west of the Mobil when the shootout occurred and that the officer’s squad camera recorded the shooting, although that video was not among those released by the DOJ.

Only 8 minutes after he killed Griger, McCarthy had been fatally shot.

It is not believed that anyone fired guns during those 8 minutes other than McCarthy and the deputy who was shot.



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