Man gets 15 years in prison for role in Strum shooting

A Strum man who recorded his plans before attempting to kidnap his wife and pointing a gun at police officers has been sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 11 years of supervision. Appearing in Trempealeau County Circuit Court, La Crosse County Judge Scott Horne Friday said he did not impose the maximum sentence on Ryan Gunderson, 38, because of the "entirety of your life." But that the severity of the crimes, including the apparent "willingness" of Gunderson to kill someone, demanded a stern sentence for the three felonies and two misdemeanors to which Gunderson pleaded guilty. Because the terms are consecutive, Gunderson will spend 15 years in prison and be under extensive supervision of 11. Trempealeau County District Attorney John Sacia said the man did not qualify for early release programs, and so will spend all 15 years in prison. Before his sentencing in a crowded courtroom with many police officers in attendance, Gunderson said he was "so sorry" for the Oct. 12, 2018, incident that led him to eventually be shot by officers.

"I was totally selfish. It was horrible in every way. I was in so much pain that I just wanted to inflict pain," Gunderson said. "I know my apology is not enough. I just wanted to grow old with my wife, a woman I've loved for years," he said. "I'm sorry. Wish I could... So sorry." Gunderson's wife tearfully said she wished the court could know who her husband really is. "He's a deeply hurting man. I will always love him," she said. The wife of Osseo Police Chief William Prudlick, at whom Gunderson pointed a loaded gun in the incident, said there were no excuses for Gunderson's actions and that the phone call about the shooting "sent my world spinning." Gunderson "has a significant history of building up tension, blowing up and then saying he was sorry," she said. Officer Prudlick wrote Horne a detailed summary of what happened on the day Gunderson was shot by Eleva officer Kim Potts as Gunderson pointed a gun at Prudlick, and the effect it had on his life. "I wonder about my next Gunderson call, it's always in the back of my mind and it always will be," Prudlick wrote. In a statement written by Potts and read by county victim witness coordinator Robin Leonard, the Eleva officer said she is still "haunted" by the incident.

As Horne noted when sentencing Chad Anderson, 42, of Eleva to two years in prison and a year of probation for helping Gunderson learn about guns, which bullets are most lethal and encouraging him in his acts, Horne said the tapes Gunderson kept were the "most chilling I've heard in my 40 years of working in courts." Police had been on the lookout for Gunderson after his wife reported an encounter. When Prudlick and Potts eventually pinned Gunderson in his vehicle, the man raised a gun at Prudlick and then appeared to be working on the weapon. Prudlick emptied his gun through his squad car windshield and Potts shot Gunderson before he gave up. Horne said he took into account the 20 years between Gunderson's relatively minor driving and drug paraphernalia convictions and his 2018 crimes. "These are the most difficult sentences. When someone has a criminal history, it's not complicated. But you're someone who has raised children, who supported your family. But these are serious crimes, and they could have turned out so much worse." Horne said he was not swayed by statements that Gunderson was trying to commit suicide by police or that he was abusing methamphetamine. Horne noted that Gunderson had two fully loaded magazines, including one with bullets designed to pierce ballistic vests. "I've worked in drug court, and not everyone who abuses meth becomes violent," Horne said. Gunderson's attorney Michael Cohen argued that Gunderson's mental illness and drug addiction will not be addressed in prison, and that a long sentence would be strictly retribution. He said special prosecutor Nathaniel Adamson's recommendation that Gunderson get a maximum sentence is condemning the man to be "warehoused in a cage."

In his appeal to Horne to impose the maximum sentence of 24 years and six months in prison and 17 years of supervision, Adamson said the October incident began in August 2018 with a series of Gunderson arrests and orders of no contact with his family. Gunderson was a "abusive manipulator" even while in jail, Adamson said. He did not take advantage of the help offered him. He displays "ingrained criminality," Adamson said. Because Gunderson's gun was found to not have a bullet in the chamber, an initial count of attempted homicide was dropped. Horne did impose the maximum sentence for a felony count of pointing a gun at a police officer, giving Gunderson three years in prison and three years of supervision. For attempted kidnapping, Horne sentenced Gunderson to 13 years instead of the maximum of 20, with eight years in prison and five with supervision. For the third felony for which Gunderson pleaded guilty, stalking with a dangerous weapon, Horne gave Gunderson a seven-year sentence instead of the maximum 12 years and six months. The seven years include four years in prison and three under supervision.

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