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Saturday, 15 April 2017 18:17

Diary of a manhunt: The search for Joseph Jakubowski

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(Editor's note: For 10 days in April 2017, residents in southern Wisconsin were on edge as authorities launched a nationwide manhunt. Here is a day-by-day look back at the search for Joseph Jakubowski.)

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- The alarm sounded at the Armageddon Gun Shop on Janesville's north side shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, April 4, 2017. As police responded to the scene and began to assess the situation, a call came in about a car fire that soon would be connected to the burglary. The investigation escalated quickly and residents of southern Wisconsin remained on edge for more than a week while authorities launched a nationwide manhunt.

Joseph A. Jakubowski, 32, of Janesville, the focus of the search, wasn't captured until early morning April 14, 2017 in a makeshift camp on a farmer's property in Vernon County.

Janesville Police Chief David Moore said shortly after Jakubowski was captured that that the suspect had a plan all along.

It began sometime before the gun shop burglary with a Facebook video of Jakubowski mailing his 161-page, anti-government manifesto, to President Donald Trump.

"Revolution," Jakubowski says into the camera of a video taken by an unnamed person. "It's time for change."

Here’s the timeline of Jakubowski’s activities:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Jakubowski is filmed near a Janesville post office, mailing a 161-page manifesto to President Donald Trump. The rambling screed doesn’t include specific targets, but rails against government, religion and anyone or anything other than natural law or rule.

The Armageddon Gun Shop is burglarized at 8:40 p.m. Some 18 high-end handguns and rifles, including one automatic weapon, are stolen. Surveillance video shows a suspect smashing the glass front door headfirst to gain entry.

At 9:07 p.m., a vehicle fire is reported on Pennycook Lane, a short distance away. Authorities find evidence of arson at the scene and it appears that the burglary and vehicle arson are connected. The registered owner of the vehicle involved in the fire is Jakubowski, whose last known address is listed as the upper level of a home at 811 Glen St., Janesville. Jakubowski is considered a suspect in both incidents and is wanted by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office for questioning.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Authorities begin interviewing family members and acquaintances and learn Jakubowski has been highly agitated regarding a variety of political issues and had made threats to steal weapons and to use them against public officials or at an unspecified school.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Area schools are notified. Janesville schools go on lockdown. Schools in Edgerton, Milton, Delavan, Whitewater, Elkhorn and Lake Geneva are at various of levels security, ranging from “heightened awareness” to “soft lockdown.” The Rock County Sheriff's Office assigns deputies to the Montessori, Consolidated, Yahara, Rock County Christian and Parkview Schools for afternoon dismissal.

The FBI, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and numerous local law enforcement agencies join the search.

Officers in tactical gear and FBI patches do an unsuccessful search at the Glen Street residence.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Janesville and Milton schools are cancelled.

A SWAT team searches home on Eisenhower Avenue, but finds nothing.

Authorities hold a 9 a.m. press conference at Rock County Airport's main terminal. The FBI offers a $10,000 cash reward in an effort to solicit information leading to Jakubowski’s arrest. A tip line is established.

Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden says Jakubowski has bought a bullet-resistant vest and helmet. Authorities say the fugitive is considered armed and dangerous and if seen, should not be approached. Spoden noted that Jakubowski has had run-ins with the police prior to disappearing, including one incident in 2008 in which he tried to disarm a police officer, but the most recent issue is most concerning because of the type of language he has used to describe his potential ambitions.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A tip received leads tactical teams from local law enforcement agencies to search Jakubowski’s Janesville residence, but turns up nothing.

Local, state and federal agencies continue to be involved in the search, with additional resources coming in from Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Although no specific threat to any particular church or religious group is listed in Jakubowski’s manifesto, as a result of its anti-religion sentiment, local law enforcement has increased patrols at churches within their jurisdictions. No disturbances are reported at local churches, but a suspicious circumstance report was filed near St. Mary’s Church on East Wall Street in Janesville. A man reported to be placing weapons in the trunk of his car was found to be going target shooting.

Bethel Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie cancels its services after a suspicious subject fitting Jakubowski’s description stopped by the church on April 6. Investigators later determined it was not Jakubowski.

The Southern Wisconsin Emergency Preparedness Team (SWEPT), a local, non-profit organization that provides support services to law enforcement and other emergency response agencies in Rock County is brought in.

Staffing levels for investigators are in the range of 150 local, state and federal law enforcement officers and support personnel involved in the manhunt.

Investigators contact area schools with updates on the manhunt. Many Rock County would be closed the following week for spring break.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Authorities posted 2014 photos of Jakubowski's tattoos.

One hundred and fifty additional leads come in, bringing the total to over 500 tips.

Local patrols are increased. Additional federal resources are brought in to help with the investigation.

Local business donate food to help keep the ever-growing number of law enforcement personnel working.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Robyn Roberts of "Good Morning America" interviewed Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden and Janesville Police Chief David Moore. Both said they are anticipating "some kind of endgame" with Jakubowski.

Authorities think Jakubowski may have shaved his head and/or facial hair to disguise his appearance, and enhanced photos are released by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.

Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo of the FBI announced the bureau has increased its reward to $20,000 for information leading to the successful arrest of Jakubowski.

Jakubowski’s stepfather, Don McLean, urges the fugitive to turn himself in.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Some 700 tips have been received on the tip lines.

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office releases a criminal complaint against Jakubowski. The complaint lists counts of Burglary – Arming Self with a Dangerous Weapon; Felony Theft – Special Facts; and Possession of Burglarious Tools.

The link,, provides access to a copy of the Criminal Complaint.

The Wisconsin Lottery releases an alert to all lottery terminals, including gas stations, convenience and grocery stores and other retailers with a photo of Jakubowski and information on his search.

Area residents and businesses drop off meals, food, gift cards, handmade messages, even Easter baskets, thanking law enforcement personnel for working on the investigation.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Partial copies of Jakubowski’s manifesto are reported to be circulating among media outlets. Investigators say they will not release the document during the ongoing investigation.

Waukesha County authorities investigate a threatening letter indicating unspecified violence at unspecified churches in the Sussex on Easter Sunday, April 16. The letter is purported to have been sent by Jakubowski, but its authenticity is in question. It is forwarded for analysis, and later determined to be not connected to Jakubowski.

At 9:30 p.m., the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office receives a report of a suspicious person on a farmer’s property on Estes Road near Readstown, Wisconsin. The farmer reports a man matching Jakubowski’s description has set up camp and has refused to leave. Investigators and tactical teams assigned to the case are sent to assist local authorities in determining whether the suspicious person is related to the manhunt.

Friday, April 14

Shortly before 6 a.m., tactical officers make contact with the suspicious person at the campsite and take him into custody without incident. The man is identified as Jakubowski. Arrangements are made for him to be transported to Madison, then Rock County for further investigation and charges.

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office holds a 2 p.m. press conference at the Janesville airport. Spoden describes Jakubowski as looking disheveled and camping in primitive conditions when found.

Gov. Scott Walker announces an annual Easter egg hunt at the governor’s residence, cancelled Thursday because of safety concerns about the ongoing manhunt, is back on after the fugitive’s arrest.


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