Man charged in armed church roof standoff pleads no contest

James Cooper
James Cooper(Outagamie Co Jail)
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 9:21 AM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - An Appleton man charged in an armed standoff on the roof of a church a year ago pleaded no contest to charges against him.

James Cooper, 34, entered pleas Monday to a felony charge of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and bail jumping. He’ll be sentenced next month.

According to the criminal complaint against Cooper, on May 19, 2023, police responded to calls about a man on S. Matthias St. pointing a gun at someone and then at himself. A police officer who responded heard a gunshot then saw Cooper crouched on the roof of St. Bernadette’s Parish with a gun in his hand.

After his arrest, Cooper indicated he was having a mental health crisis due to the anniversary of his mother’s suicide. He went to Iris Place inside St. Bernadette’s Parish, where the staff said he was aggressive, with yelling and swearing. After three days, he was told to pack his belongings and leave. He pointed a gun at his head and a female staff member, then fired a shot into the air, climbed to the roof, and fired another shot into the air.

Nearby schools went into lockdown. People nearby were advised to shelter in place. The church is near Thompson Center on Lourdes, Options for Independent Living, and a residential area.

Cooper told police he got the gun from his home when he was expecting he’d be kicked out of Iris Place. He said he fired the gun to get law enforcement to respond and for someone to understand his situation. He said he wasn’t going to hurt anyone, including himself.

Since his arrest, Cooper has also been charged with multiple counts of a prisoner throwing or expelling bodily substances and resisting or obstructing an officer, as recently as last month, according to online court records.