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Drones were key in finding Hobart standoff suspect, who turned gun on himself

The suspect, 40-year-old Jeffrey Patnode, died later from the self-inflicted wound
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 7:49 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2021 at 6:32 PM CST
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HOBART, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE 12/16:

Police say a man has died from the self-inflicted gunshot wound that ended a 10-hour standoff in Hobart Wednesday. The man was identified as Jeffrey A. Patnode, 40.

On Dec. 15, just after 5:00 a.m., police received a 911 call for a domestic disturbance at 705 Centerline Drive. A 25-year-old woman told officers that her boyfriend, Patnode, was threatening to kill her. She said Patnode had already fired his handgun, but she was not shot.

Officers quickly arrived on scene and set up a perimeter around the apartment complex. That’s where the victim had told police she believed Patnode was hiding.

“Between the time she had gotten out of there and called police and the time that we arrived there and secured a perimeter, he must have gotten outside without our knowledge,” said Hobart-Lawrence Police Chief Randy Bani. “The woods sit right behind the apartment, so it was a matter of seconds.”

As minutes to turned to hours, and continuing throughout the day, police added tactical vehicles and officers from at least five other agencies, reinforcing their perimeter.

“Eventually we had to call out the SWAT team. At that point, we believed we had a barricaded gunman in the apartment, so we secured the perimeter,” said Bani.

He said officers tried repeatedly to make contact with Patnode but received no response.

Residents were warned to stay in their apartments to be safe and took video of police using a robot to try to spot the man.

As the day progressed, police were dealing with increasingly thick fog and difficult weather, so they decided to try drones.

“My drone operator flew around the apartments and attempted to look everywhere he could to look in windows and so forth to see if we could find him in there, and we were unable to, so then he started checking the woods,” explained Bani.

That’s when they thought they spotted Patnode hiding near a tree.

“It was shortly after that that our drone crashed,” said Bani.

Three other agencies brought in drones, too, including a high-tech drone from the Green Bay Metro Fire Department. We first reported on it earlier this year the department debuted it. It had purchased the larger drone, with thermal imaging capabilities, expecting it to be helpful for finding missing people.

“It’s sophisticated and able to see a clear picture of the wooded area that we were looking at, and they’re like, yep, he’s here,” recalled Bani.

Soon after the drone spotted Patnode, Bani said officers heard another gunshot.

They found Patnode and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead from the self-inflicted shot.

Now knowing he had been hiding in the woods all along, Bani said this is a good reminder that people need to heed warnings when they’re asked to shelter in place or avoid areas because of police presence.

“You really need to, because in this case, look, actually he was out on foot when we thought he had been in an apartment,” he said.

The active situation wrapped up at about 3:30 P.M. after nearly 10 hours. Bani said no law enforcement personnel or other residents were hurt.

He also thanked responding agencies and the community, including nearby business EMT International. Bani said the business opened its doors to allow police space to operate a command center, out of the elements.

“We had winds. We had fog. We knew the rain was coming, so we were certainly blessed to have that building to work out of,” said Bani. “It’s huge that they had computers for us, phones for us. We were able to charge batteries. We have people on 12-hour shifts and their radios don’t work a whole lot longer than 12 hours and the battery’s got to be replaced, so we had a place to go and charge batteries for the radios and the drones and the robots.”

INITIAL REPORT 12/15

A shelter in place order in Hobart has been lifted after the subject of a standoff and manhunt was found injured Wednesday afternoon and taken into custody. Hobart/Lawrence Police Chief Randy Bani says it appears the man had a self-inflicted gun wound.

The Brown County SWAT responded to the area of Centerline Dr. earlier Wednesday after a person fired a shot during a domestic incident that started at around 5 a.m. at the Mulliner Crossing apartments. Police say the man’s girlfriend called 911 and told authorities she was hurt, but she was not shot.

Chief Bani told Action 2 News the girlfriend’s hand was hurt, possibly broken, but survived the incident. Her family has been notified of the incident.

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Two Brown County Bearcat armored vehicles used by SWAT responded to the scene, as well as the Brown-Outagamie County Bomb Squad. Chief Bani said residents of the apartment community were evacuated as the incident happened in complex No. 3. Some residents who were not allowed back inside waited in their cars across the street for several hours.

Chief Randy Bani said a warrant was being obtained to arrest the suspect they believed was holed up in an apartment. Officers tried to contact him by phone but were not successful. It was only later they discovered the man was not inside, launching a manhunt. An emergency alert advised people in the area to shelter in place at around 1:30 p.m. Part of Centennial Centre Blvd. was blocked off while SWAT searched the nearby woods.

Chief Bani said about five or six drones were deployed to search for the suspect. Aaron Kramer, the Village Administrator, said one of Hobart’s drones had technical issues.

The man was later found in a fog-filled wooded area near the Mulliner Crossing apartments with the help from a drone that detects body temperature.

The active situation wrapped up at about 3:30 P.M. after nearly 10 hours. Chief Bani said no law enforcement personnel or other residents were hurt.

Police remained on scene for a few more hours to collect evidence and clean up.

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