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New Information: Police release name of man who died in apartment explosion

(WEAU)
Published: Jan. 16, 2017 at 9:20 AM CST
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A man is dead after following through with a threat to blow up his apartment in Rice Lake.

The Rice Lake Police Department says Joseph Zunker, 44, called police around 11p.m., Sunday, before setting off the explosion.

Police say they had previous contact with Zunker who was a convicted sex offender.

The department said it responded quickly to Zunker’s threat to blow up his apartment building on South Main Street.

Chief Steve Roux said officers arrived at the home within minutes to evacuate the residents and to try talking with Zunker.

“He didn't make a lot of sense and he was pretty upset,” said Roux. “He was upset and threatening and basically telling the officers, "If you come in here I'm going to blow everybody up."”

A short while later officers say Zunker started an explosion which spread fire through the building.

Later Zunker was found dead inside.

“Undoubtable our officers saved multiple lives by acting quickly,” said Roux. “Very satisfied with how our officers acted in getting those folks out of there”.

The morning after the explosion Rebeca Scates was digging through the rubble of what used to be her home.

Showing a handmade bowl Scates said, “My son made me this when he was in fifth grade. These are movies my girls got. It's all they've got left of Christmas. That's all I have left of my whole life.”

Scates said she heard her neighbor Zunker yelling and breaking things on Sunday night.

She said they then exchanged harsh words shortly before police told everyone to evacuate the building.

“Then within five to ten minutes it blew,” recalled Scates. “It was scary you know; all the windows blew out and the roof went up in flames. We're all homeless now.”

The department says it now hopes interviews will shed light on the reason for Zunker's action.

“It would be nice to put closure to it but we may never know that,” added Roux.

One officer was reportedly injured in the explosion when glass got into his eye but the department says he should be fine.

Another person living in the apartment received minor injuries.

The department does say because of the total loss of the building it may never know what caused the explosion.


Police have released the name of the man who died:

He has been identified as Joseph Zunker, 44.


RICE LAKE, Wis. (WEAU) --A man is dead following an apartment explosion in Rice Lake.

The call came into the Rice Lake Police Department around 11 p.m. Sunday at 1030 S. Main St.

According to Captain Tracy Hom, with the Rice Lake Police Department, they are not releasing any names at this time, but he could confirm that the man killed was born in 1972. Hom says the man called 911 and threatened to blow up his apartment. Hom says the explosion was small, but the rest of the apartment complex caught fire and is a total loss. Investigators say about 14 people are displaced due to the fire, and they are being assisted by the Red Cross.

One officer was injured in the explosion when glass got into his eye.

The incident is still under investigation.