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‘Left it there by mistake:’ Jackson man faces misdemeanor charge after gun found in Starbucks restroom

WEST BEND — A CCW permit holder is facing a misdemeanor charge, accused of leaving his gun in the restroom at a West Bend Starbucks store. Prosecutors say he told investigators he simply forgot the firearm, and there was no ill will in this case.

Joseph Emery, 42, of Jackson is charged with negligent handling of a weapon for the incident that happened on April 9 in West Bend.

According to a criminal complaint, police were dispatched to the Starbucks store on 18th Avenue near Washington Street for a report of a firearm found in a restroom. An employee indicated that afternoon, he was cleaning the customer area when he entered the bathroom and “immediately noticed the baby changing station was slightly ajar.” When he tried pushing it shut, he wasn’t able to get it closed, so he opened it further and noticed a black object in the lower left corner closest to the door. He thought it was a strap wedged in which was preventing the table from closing, so he reached in to pull it out. That’s when he realized it was a firearm. He said he pulled out the firearm, which was holstered, and walked with the firearm into a back room — notifying a manager immediately.

The manager said when she was notified, she immediately called police. She indicated she removed the magazine but didn’t check to see whether there were any rounds inside the chamber.

When it was processed, police learned there was an unfired round in the chamber and a magazine with additional unfired rounds, and the safety was on.

While police were at the Starbucks, the complaint says Emery came to the counter and said the firearm was his. At the police department, he said he owned the firearm, and “left it in the restroom.” He said he went to the Starbucks shortly before noon to use the WiFi and that afternoon, he went into the restroom. He said he regularly carries a firearm as “he works in unfavorable areas,” and carries it in a holster on his hip. He said he removed the firearm from his pants as “it tends to fall out while he is using the bathroom.” He said he put the firearm on the changing table “so he would remember to grab it on the way out.” He said when he was washing his hands, he got a phone call from his wife and “didn’t want to miss the call,” so he answered and moved out of the restroom. He said the call “distracted” him, and he “forgot to take the firearm out of the bathroom.” He said he went back to where he was sittingĀ and finished the call and then went back to work and didn’t think about the firearm until police walked in. He said he “immediately thought of his firearm and that being the reason police were called.” He told investigators he “had no negative intent of leaving the firearm in the bathroom,” and said he “left it there by mistake.”

Online court records show Emery has an initial court appearance scheduled for June 4.