36-year-old man appeared in Sawyer County court Tuesday morning making his first court appearance since the shooting deaths of six deer hunters and the wounding of two more than a week ago.
Charges were read against Chai Vang as he sat shackled and handcuffed in a makeshift courtroom in the basement of the sheriff's department. Security was high. Vang told Judge Norman Yackel that he understood the charges against him, and Vang then waived his right to a preliminary hearing within ten days. The judge scheduled the next hearing for Dec. 29.
Vang remains jailed in Hayward on a $2.5 million bond in connection with the shooting spree in a remote wooded area in southern Sawyer County. Vang claims he was racially taunted and that one of the hunters fired a bullet at him as he walked away told to leave a private property hunting area. The two survivors said Vang turned on them, and that he was not provoked.
The sheriff said the judge wanted the hearing in the basement because of concerns over security in the courthouse. Family and friends of both the defendant and the victims were afforded an area from which to view the proceedings, but none appeared.