A Wisconsin Capitol Police officer who was terminated after firing her handgun inside the governor's mansion in October told responding officers the shot had been fired by someone outside the building, according to records of the investigation released Wednesday.
Photos from the scene also appear to suggest the shooting may not have been the accident officials first portrayed it to be; the bullet passed cleanly through the eye of a decorative ghost, part of a Halloween display in the Capitol Police security office at the mansion, before piercing some metal blinds and a window.
"You were untruthful when you reported the incident and intentionally attempted to mislead the Department," Capitol Police Chief David Erwin wrote in a termination letter to Kimberly Tesch.
A few days before the Oct. 18 shooting, the department had extended Tesch's 12-month initial probation period so she could complete her firearms training, Erwin said in the termination letter contained in the records released to the Wisconsin State Journal under the state open records law.
Erwin didn't return phone calls seeking information about Tesch's duties in the mansion, the training she'd received from the department and the reason she hadn't completed the firearms course.
Tesch was stationed in the security office in a lower level of the mansion in Maple Bluff when her gun discharged, sending a slug through the eye of a cartoon ghost on the windowsill.
Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol police, initially said the shooting was accidental, but she acknowledged Wednesday that it is difficult to be certain exactly why the gun was fired.
"If you are talking about proof, you are going to have one person's word against another," Marquis said.
Marquis said she didn't know if Tesch admitted to firing the gun or if she told investigators how it happened.
Saying it was a personnel matter, Marquis wouldn't say why Tesch hadn't completed her firearms training.
Police photos of Tesch's gun show that it was a Sig Sauer P229. The model in the photo requires 10 pounds of pressure on the trigger — nearly twice as much as several other similar handguns — in order to fire the first shot, said Jason Roetz, co-owner of Wisconsin Firearms Training in Milwaukee.
"The idea is that you do need that extra pressure to make sure that you don't have an unintended discharge," Roetz said.
Tesch didn't respond to a note left at her home requesting her comment. Messages left with fellow officers and members of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association union didn't produce a response either.
Gov. Scott Walker and his family were not in the mansion when the incident occurred shortly before 11 p.m., Marquis said.
Police reports released by the state indicate that after Tesch reported the shooting two Capitol police officers and one Maple Bluff officer arrived and searched the mansion grounds for an armed intruder.
"Tesch said there was no movement on the motion alarms," Capitol Police Officer Derrick Fameree wrote in his report.
Capitol Police Lt. Todd Kuschel and other officers, including Erwin, searched the inside of the mansion and examined the hole in the window.
"Most of the glass fragments were located on the outside of the window area," Kuschel wrote in his report. "As this investigation continued it became apparent that the physical evidence was in conflict with the verbal accounting of the incident by Officer Tesch."
Erwin fired Tesch the next day.