Update to Town of Kewaskum Homicide
Posted on 02/09/2021

Date: February 9, 2021
Case:  Update to Town of Kewaskum Homicide
Authority: Detective Lieutenant Tim Kemps  
Today, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigations, identified the individual killed during a shootout with a Washington County deputy on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, as 30-year-old Nicholas S. Pingel of West Bend.  The sheriff’s office confirmed that Nicholas Scott Pingel is the lone suspect involved in the crime spree immediately leading up to the officer-involved shooting that ended the threat to the community that day.

Detectives from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the West Bend Police Department, have been diligently working to establish the suspect’s pattern of behavior and whereabouts for the week leading up to the tragic sequence of events on Forest View Rd.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is releasing the following information concerning that aspect of the investigation.

Nicholas S. Pingel has had multiple contacts with area law enforcement agencies; contacts with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office date back to 2010 for a variety of minor investigations, civil forfeitures as well as misdemeanor and felony arrests.  From 2014 to 2016 Pingel was arrested for multiple burglaries and was ultimately sent to prison.  He has spent much of the past four years incarcerated in the state prison system.  He was released from prison on December 1st, 2020, and was placed on extended supervision with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. 

At the time of his death, he had one pending misdemeanor criminal case in Washington County for battery and disorderly conduct as a result of a bar fight that occurred on December 12th of last year in the City of West Bend.  He was released from the Washington County Jail on December 15th after the probation hold was lifted.  That was the last negative local law enforcement encounter with Pingel until the deadly force encounter.   His residence at the time of his death was 150 N Main Street #8 in the City of West Bend which is Department of Corrections owned housing.

Interviews with immediate family members and associates suggest he struggled with substantial mental health issues for at least the past decade and was completely disconnected from direct family members for the week preceding the incident.  His behavior became increasingly erratic and Pingel displayed signs of extreme paranoia in the weeks leading up to his murderous crime spree.  It’s believed Pingel stopped taking his medication which helped him cope with his serious mental illness. 

Investigators, through interviews with known associates, determined Pingel stayed at an acquaintances apartment in the central portion of the City of West Bend starting on Friday, January 29th.  Due to his erratic, but non-threatening behavior, he was asked to leave the apartment the following day.  Evidence suggests he may have been covertly staying overnight in the common basement area of that apartment for the nights leading up to Wednesday morning. 

Interviews also suggest that drug use could be a contributing factor to his erratic behavior as well. Preliminary toxicology tests showed the presence of marijuana.  Further, more comprehensive toxicology results are pending. 

Through a neighborhood canvas of the northeastern quadrant of the City of West Bend, investigators obtained video footage of Pingel alone about ½ mile from the area the car was initially stolen on Marcia Ave. in the City of West Bend. Based upon this information, there is conclusive evidence that he acted alone.

Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis released the following statement, “As a community and an agency, we continue to try and process the horrific events of last week that occurred at the hands of this man.  I understand the fear, pain, and anxiety that many in Washington County are experiencing surrounding these events.  Random violence is rare in Washington County, people have the right to feel safe within their homes, and these horrific crimes that terrorized so many called into question that very right.  The victims, their families, and this community deserve answers to better understand what could cause someone to act out in such a violent manner, this is why we are releasing the information today.  We can provide some clarity, unfortunately, a lot of questions remain unanswered.  We as an agency stand with and mourn alongside those affected by this horrific tragedy, we are doing our part to help the community begin to heal.  We are grateful for the outpouring of support for the victims and our agency from the people of Washington County. Finally, I ask that you join me in keeping those affected by the events of February 3rd in your thoughts and prayers as we start the healing process.”