MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An eighth-grade boy who was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy in northern Wisconsin called 911 to report a man with a knife, but then gave emergency dispatchers a description of himself, investigators said Saturday.
An Ashland County sheriff’s deputy shot 14-year-old Jason Pero outside the boy’s home on Wednesday after the teenager approached the deputy with a large butcher knife and refused numerous commands to drop it, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The shooting occurred on the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, a sprawling wooded area about 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of Madison.
Authorities said evidence shows the boy had been despondent in recent days.
Investigators said the boy twice lunged at Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich while the deputy was trying to retreat. Mrdjenovich fired, hitting the boy twice, according to the Justice Department, which is investigating the incident. Mrdjenovich, who has worked for the sheriff’s office for about a year, was interviewed by agency officials and is on paid administrative leave.
Investigators had previously released few details about what led up to the shooting, saying only that deputies were responding to a call about a male subject walking down the street with a knife around 11:40 a.m.
Pero’s grandparents told The Associated Press on Friday that the boy, who lived with them, had come home from school with the flu Wednesday morning, but they didn’t know why he later left the home. Relatives questioned whether he had a knife. Authorities said a knife was found at the shooting scene.
The teen’s grandfather, Alan Pero, told the AP that he and his wife had raised the boy since he was a year old. He said his grandson went to school Wednesday morning but came back to the house feeling nauseous. The grandparents weren’t home, but Jason’s uncle was and said the boy was watching TV. The uncle was downstairs doing laundry when the boy apparently left.
Pero said investigators searched the home, and the family discovered a dull butcher knife was missing. The boy’s mother and other relatives have said they’re not convinced Jason had a knife. His grandfather said that even if the boy did, “maybe he was carving, maybe he was doing something, but he’d never hurt a fly. Never in his life.”