FOND DU LAC — Thursday, March 24th marked one year since Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Trevor Casper lost his life in the line of duty.
21-year-old Casper was killed on March 24th, 2015 during a shootout with a bank robbery suspect. It was his first solo day on the job as a trooper, and he is the youngest law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty.
One year ago, Trooper Casper pulled over bank robbery suspect Timothy Snyder. It would be his last call before the shooting that took his life.
Earlier that day, an armed bank robbery occurred at the State Bank of Florence in the small town of Wausaukee. It was reported that a lone male bank robber armed with a semi-automatic pistol had fired one round into the ceiling of the bank before stealing an employee’s vehicle to drive to where his getaway car was parked.
Sheriff’s officials believe 59-year-old motorist Thomas Christ came upon the suspect, and Christ may have confronted him about parking his vehicle on or near Christ’s property.
Not long after the 911 call came in for the bank robbery in Wausaukee, it was reported that there was a male victim lying near his truck who had been shot to death.
Evidence later showed Snyder was responsible for both the Wausaukee bank robbery, and the shooting death of Thomas Christ.
Within a couple hours of the Wausaukee bank robbery, FBI agents from Michigan and Wisconsin networked and were attempting to locate Snyder.
Investigators were able to determine what vehicle Snyder was driving, and that he was in central Wisconsin — apparently headed southbound.
Detectives and FBI agents determined Snyder could be responsible for the robbery and murder in Wausaukee, and decided to call the Wisconsin State Patrol in an effort to attempt a high-risk traffic stop on Snyder’s vehicle.
Trooper Casper spotted the suspect vehicle headed southbound on Highway 41, north of Fond du Lac.
Sheriff’s officials say Casper began following the vehicle without his lights or sirens activated — waiting for other patrol units to attempt the traffic stop. Before other units could join, Snyder performed a quick U-turn.
“He ambushed and fired on Tropper Casper while both the suspect and Trooper Casper were still seated in their respective vehicles,” Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney said.
Toney said an “armor-piercing” bullet ripped through Casper’s door — striking him in the neck. He opened his door to escape, and was struck two more times — including a fatal round through his light body armor.
“Trooper Casper then fired 12 times from his handgun. One round struck the suspect in his back, and passed through his heart,” Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney said.
Casper and Snyder fired shots at each other as they ran around Casper’s moving squad car.
Casper and Snyder eventually died after this 17-second gun battle.
In video released, showing the aftermath of the shootout, you can hear a female officer’s voice, and it paints a heartbreaking picture.
“346 is down! 346 is down! Trevor, Trevor stay with me! Stay with me! Oh my God. Oh my God! It’s the back of his head! Damn it. Damn it. Come on Trevor. Hang in there buddy,” officers are heard saying in the video.
A ‘code red’ was called, bringing city and county SWAT members to the scene, as well as a host of other agencies.
We would later learn 12 total shots were fired at Snyder by Casper.
Snyder fired at Casper nine times, and Casper was struck by three rounds. Casper was hit in his neck, hand, and chest — and was dying while he fired the fatal shots that killed suspect.
Bullets even entered a nearby apartment — piercing windows and doors.
Colleagues followed the ambulance carrying Trooper Casper’s body from the scene. In the video, they can be heard talking about what a great person Casper was.
“He was a great guy,” one officer says.
“I know what you mean. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life,” another officer says.
The realization set in for these officers that this was no ordinary day for anyone.
“That’s how we remember Casper — as a great person, and great cop, and someone we can look up to,” an officer says.
Casper was a Kiel native, who was active in high school sports and once made the prom court. He was a 2014 graduate of Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisconsin.
Casper graduated from Kiel High School in 2011. Superintendent Louise Blankenheim said he was a varsity wrestler and soccer player — also involved in the German Club. Classmates voted him “best person for advice.”
Those who knew and loved Casper say he knew for years he wanted to be in law enforcement. He received his Wisconsin State Patrol badge in December 2014 — graduating as part of the State Patrol’s “60th Recruit Class.”
As you head into Kiel, a sign reads: “The little city that does big things.” Those who knew Casper say the slogan embodies who Casper was.
“Trevor knew he wanted to be a police officer well into his high school years. His guidance counselor shared with me that he knew this was something he wanted to do,” Kiel School District Administrator Louise Blankenheim said.
Casper graduated from Lakeshore Technical College with honors in May of 2014 — earning a degree in criminal justice.
In May, Casper’s name will be etched in stone alongside many fallen law enforcement officers at the state and national law enforcement memorials in Madison and Washington, D.C.
Last fall, Casper’s family accepted the Medal of Valor and Purple Heart from the Wisconsin State Patrol in his honor.