MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee County judge sentenced 41-year-old Dan Popp on Friday, Feb. 23 to life in prison without the chance for parole for a triple homicide in March 2016.
Popp killed three people -- Phia Vue, his wife Mai Vue and Jesus Manso-Perez. Popp then tried to kill Perez’s son, Jesus Manso-Carraquillo. While some believe Popp killed them based on race, others say it's clear he had been mentally ill and allowed to have guns.
41-year-old Popp arguably had his own reality. He was previously diagnosed with mental illness, and his past includes time at mental health complexes and treatment centers. In March 2016, he told police he believed he was saving children shooting robots. Popp shot his neighbor, Manso-Perez, killing him, and fired four shots at Manso-Perez's son as he ran away. Then Popp broke into an apartment, and shot and killed Phia and Mai Vue in front of their children.
"I'll never forget the sound of the gunshot that rang through my ears from the bathroom as my dad was being executed. I didn't know what to do when I heard the gunshots. I was full of fear thinking I was going to be next," said Isabel Vue, victims' daughter.
Many in the Hmong community, believe Popp chose his victims based on race and he should have been charged with a hate crime. Popp's sister spoke to the judge, asking that Popp be sent to a mental institution.
"He is a veteran who dedicated his life to our military. In his career he risked his life to save people with regular exposure to gruesome and catastrophic fatalities only to compromise his own mental health, which progressed into debilitating mental illness and disease," said Popp's sister, Dawn Johnson.
"I think I'd be remiss if I didn't mention there's a significant problem in this country involving weapons available to almost anyone," said Judge Jeffrey Conen.
The judge sentenced Popp to three life terms without the possibility of parole. It's what the families of the victims asked for, even though many who spoke said they forgive him.
Last month, Judge Conen delivered a judgement on the verdict handed down against Popp. A jury ruled in November that Popp was mentally ill at the time of the triple homicide -- but able to conform his behavior to the law. In court on Jan. 26, requests for Popp to go to a mental institution or have a new trial were denied.