2 men charged with homicide after September shooting in Eau Claire
32-year-old Michael Purnell and 34-year-old Xavier Thompson, both of Eau Claire, are charged with homicide.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Two men have been charged with homicide in the fatal September shooting of an Altoona man in Eau Claire on September 17.
According to online court records, 32-year-old Michael Purnell and 34-year-old Xavier Thompson, both of Eau Claire, were each charged with 1st-degree intentional homicide, two counts of 1st-degree recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, and discharging a firearm from a vehicle, all felonies, in Eau Claire County Circuit Court Friday.
All eight counts were filed as party to a crime. Purnell also was previously charged with fleeing law enforcement in a vehicle last month, also a felony. Purnell was previously arrested and released on a $5,000 cash bond for the charge of fleeing law enforcement. The homicide and other felony charges were added to the criminal complaint on Friday, according to online court records.
A warrant was issued for both men by Eau Claire County Circuit Court Judge Michael Schumacher on Friday, according to online court records.
According to documents filed with the charges on Oct. 28, police responded to a report of a shooting in Eau Claire and found an injured man. A civilian was attempting first aid when police arrived. First responders found one gunshot wound in the man’s back and took over providing aid to the man, who was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Investigators found nine spent shell casings in the area of the reported shooting. A vehicle that had bullet holes in it was found crashed into a tree at the scene. A man approached police at the scene, saying that the car was his and that someone shot at him. The man told police that he ran because he was scared. Inspection of the vehicle found multiple points of damage from bullets, as well as the rear windshield being shattered, according to the criminal complaint.
The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office found a suspect in the shooting about four hours later in the Town of Washington. The suspect, Purnell, refused to exit his vehicle and drove away from police. The pursuit went from Eau Claire County into Chippewa County, where spike strips were used to try to stop Purnell. According to deputies, Purnell exceeded 100mph in the chase. Deputies used a PIT maneuver to stop Purnell’s vehicle and he was taken into custody, according to court documents.
Investigators said that in reviewing surveillance video from a number of businesses and traffic cameras in the city, they saw the suspects, Thompson and Purnell, as well as the shooting victim, the driver of the vehicle found crashed at the scene, and several other people at different bars on the evening of Sept. 16. Investigators also saw the vehicles driven by the people in the group in the area of the shooting. None of the people interviewed by police saw the shooting but confirmed some kind of argument occurred that night, according to the criminal complaint. Purnell was seen by at least two people carrying a gun.
In September, Eau Claire police investigated the death of 39-year-old Christopher Conner of Altoona, who was found with a gunshot wound near the intersection of Bergen Avenue and Bellevue Avenue at 12:12 a.m. on Sept. 17, according to a release from the Eau Claire Police Department. Police were responding to a report of multiple gunshots in a residential area. Conner was treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the release. Investigators with the Police Department worked with the Wisconsin State Patrol to process the scene.
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