FOX CROSSING – Investigators released no new information in the past four days to explain how and why a Kaukauna man was shot and killed by a police officer May 23 on the Fox Cities Trestle Trail bridge.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Friday identified the man as Joshua M. Gomoll, 25.
The DOJ, which has taken the lead on the investigation, hasn’t released the name of the Fox Crossing police officer who shot Gomoll. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with the police department’s policy.
Attempts to reach Johnny Koremenos, the DOJ’s director of communications and public affairs, by phone and email were unsuccessful.
When the DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation examined the 2015 police shooting at Eagle Nation Cycles in Neenah, the agency waited five months before it identified the two Neenah officers who killed hostage Michael L. Funk.
By comparison, it took the Appleton Police Department less than 24 hours to release the names, titles and photographs of all five police officers involved in the May 7 shooting death of David J. Robinson.
Dan Wiechman, Fox Crossing’s community liaison officer, said he had no information about the release of the officer’s name.
“I don’t know when that’s happening,” Wiechman told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin on Tuesday. “I know APD’s was sooner, but I don’t think the DCI was investigating theirs.”
The Green Bay Police Department investigated the May 7 shooting in Appleton. The findings of that investigation were released Friday.
State law requires that an outside agency investigate when police shoot someone.
Gomoll was confronted by police and shot on the bridge shortly after 3 p.m., according to statements by Fox Crossing police and the DOJ. He died at the scene. An autopsy was done Thursday.
The DOJ said police had responded to the area after “numerous people” reported that a man “was acting erratically with a knife and approaching members of the public in Fritse Park.”
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reached out to Gomoll’s family to learn more about him and why he was at Fritse Park.
Beth Gomoll, who identified herself as Gomoll’s stepmother, said the family was reserving comment.
“At this time the family is not making any statements about Josh or the current investigation,” she said in a Facebook message.
On May 19, Gomoll called Kaukauna police for help in getting his property from a home where he had been living with a woman, Kaukauna Assistant Police Chief Jamie Graff told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. Police met with him and told him they don’t go into houses to retrieve property and that it was a civil issue, not a criminal one.
On May 21, the woman’s father came to the police department and said he gave some property back to Gomoll but didn’t feel comfortable giving a hunting rifle back to him. He thought handing over the gun in a public place would cause people to call 911, so he instead gave it to police, Graff said.
The next day, Gomoll came to the police department to get the gun. Whenever police release a gun, though, they have to do a background check to ensure that the person receiving it is legally able to possess a firearm, Graff said. Kaukauna police weren’t done with the check, so they had the gun when the Fox Crossing shooting occurred.
Graff said there was nothing in the interactions with Gomoll that caused alarm for police.
“It was just the process that we were going through that prevented him from having the gun,” Graff said. “I don’t know where the investigation is at, but jeez, that could have been a really good thing that we didn’t give him that gun.”
Gomoll had previous encounters with police. His Wisconsin court records date to 2010, when he was cited and fined for first-offense marijuana possession. A disorderly conduct case filed in Waushara County the next year was the first in a series of misdemeanor convictions through 2014, according to court records.
In recent years, court records show he had less involvement in the justice system, with cases involving small claims and traffic offenses.
What we don’t know
The limited information from the DOJ has left many questions unanswered:
- How was Gomoll “acting erratically” in the area of Fritse Park?
- Did Gomoll threaten anyone with the knife? What prompted the officer to shoot?
- Is there body camera or squad car video of the shooting? What does it show?
- How many times did the officer shoot at Gomoll? How many times was he hit?
- How many people were in the park or on the bridge at the time?
- Have police recovered the knife? What kind and size of knife was it?
Police responded in force after it was reported shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday that there was a man with a knife on the Fox Cities Trestle Trail. Wm. Glasheen, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin