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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Chippewa Falls, Wis. 05/06/2000

Called to a domestic disturbance at a dairy farm, Dep. William Kelly was forced into a gunfight with a rifle-wielding man.

January 23, 2012  |  by - Also by this author


It hurt like hell for Dep. William Kelly to breathe, and his every inhalation only provoked more incapacitating pain and less optimism as to how he was faring.

The sound of sirens converging nearby-normally a source of comfort, with their promise of oxygen and pain relief-had become an additional torment. For the better part of 20 minutes, he listened to their wails. And still no one showed up.

Only the middle-aged woman who had called him to the farmhouse came to his aid. She stepped out the back door of her house to gently hand him a wrapped towel.

Placing the towel under his left arm, the Chippewa County deputy sheriff rested his weight against it to staunch the blood seeping from his body. He stared at the woman, wondering for a moment just where her sympathies might lie. But her eyes expressed nothing but compassion for Kelly's predicament, and if he had it in him, he would have breathed a sigh of relief.

After all, he'd just shot her son.

Buying the Call

Less than 30 minutes before, a call of a domestic disturbance had gone out to a Chippewa County Sheriff's deputy. But since that deputy was a good 13 miles out and Kelly was only two miles away, he bought the call despite having already finished his shift for the day.

Kelly responded with emergency lights on, no siren. Letting his fellow motorists know he had someplace to get to was a good idea; letting the disturbing party know he was getting there, less so.

And so he slowed as he turned off County Line Road, following a driveway that snaked its way around the back of the informant's house some 200 yards from the highway. Pulling up to the side of the house and out of eye line of the area from which Kelly could hear screams, he asked the dispatcher to keep the radio channel clear for emergency traffic only.

He quietly stepped out of the squad car and approached the corner of the house where the screams were reaching a

"You made the call!" he heard an outraged male yell. "You made the f__king call!"

As Kelly rounded the corner, the man, Tom Kenealy, came into view.

Kenealy stood atop a porch a mere six feet away. The 37-year-old had been brooding ever since his mother had lectured him about frequenting a local tavern while already under the influence of medication. He was hellbent on making his feelings known with a .22 rifle; the only thing keeping him from doing so was the closed door he was screaming at. That and the deputy he saw at the corner of the house.

"Drop it!"

Barn Storm

No sooner had the words come out of Kelly's mouth than a bullet exited the rifle's barrel. It tore into one side of the deputy's forearm and out the other, leaving shattered bones in its wake.

Kelly's first instinct was to grab his left arm and clamp it into his chest with his right. Kelly turned away from the threat to put some distance between himself and Kenealy's rifle. But as he did, his left side became exposed to Kenealy. Two more shots rang out and a bullet tore into Kelly's ribs as another burrowed into his hip.

No pain registered with Kelly, only the sensation of his world suddenly shifting. Lying on his left side, the deputy drew his .40 caliber Beretta from its holster as he rotated his body atop the dirt to get a bearing on the assailant beyond his feet.

Muzzle flashes and the sound of more gunfire told Kelly that the man's murderous rage was unabated. It wasn't until the ensuing exchange of gunfire that an incoming round splintered Kelly's shin bone and made him fully aware that he'd been shot.

Suddenly, the man stepped off the porch and began walking purposefully alongside the house toward a concrete milk house about 75 feet away. Kelly didn't know that a .30-06 and additional ammunition waited inside that barn. All the same, he knew that he couldn't let the shooter reach its door.

Kelly squeezed off more rounds from his Beretta. The sight of his rounds tearing into the side of the house just beside and behind Kenealy made him adjust his sights. With the torso of his assailant "t"-ed in his front sights, he double-tapped.

Two rounds tore into Kenealy's muscled back, causing him to stagger a few more steps until his forward momentum caused him to drop to his knees. Kenealy collapsed backward and the rifle fell from his hands.

May Day

Less than a minute had passed since Kelly had stepped around the side of the house. Shocked at how much his life had changed in so few seconds, Kelly keyed his handheld and with labored breath advised dispatch that there'd been shots fired and that he needed paramedics.

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