66°
Weather | Traffic

Today's Paper
Today's Paper, also known as the e-Edition, is an online replica of the printed newspaper. You can view today's paper or previous issues.

Woman wears gun in holster to church

She drives away and is stopped and ticketed by police

July 08, 2010
SHARE

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

July 08, 2010 0

A Unitarian Universalist church might well be the last place you'd expect to find someone wearing a gun.

Maybe that's why Krysta Sutterfield chose the Unitarian church in Brookfield for an open-carry demonstration on Sunday. If she wanted to bring attention to the gun rights debate, she surely succeeded, though she probably didn't plan on getting arrested in the process.

Brookfield police said Thursday they were called to the church at 13001 W. North Ave. about 10:30 a.m. by a church staffer who said a woman was wearing a handgun in a hip holster. By the time three squad cars arrived, Sutterfield was driving away. She was stopped, and police found the loaded 9mm gun in a zipped case on the passenger seat.

She was handcuffed, taken to the police station, processed and ticketed for having the loaded gun in her car - a state forfeiture citation, not a criminal offense. Sutterfield was then released.

She was not ticketed for openly carrying the weapon into the church, which did not have signs prohibiting firearms.

"We've referred the case to the district attorney," Police Capt. Phil Horter said.

Sutterfield, 41, of Milwaukee, referred questions Thursday to her attorney, Rebecca Coffee, who said she couldn't comment on her client's intentions or actions Sunday.

Caryl Sewel, president of the congregation at Unitarian Universalist Church West, said Sutterfield may have attended a service before but was not a registered member of the church. Because of the Fourth of July holiday, Sunday's service was lightly attended, Sewel said, and a guest minister was speaking about civil rights.

Sewel said that Sutterfield's gun was clearly visible on her hip, but that she didn't ever remove it from its holster or do anything overtly threatening. Still, it concerned Sewell.

"I didn't feel comfortable asking her why she was wearing the gun," Sewel said. "Truthfully, we found it very intimidating," especially in light of the 2005 shootings at a church service at a Brookfield hotel that left eight people dead, and a 2008 shooting at a Unitarian church in Tennessee that killed two people.

But Sewel said other members did ask Sutterfield, and she replied she was expressing her 2nd Amendment rights.

Sewel said other staff called the administrative line of the Brookfield Police Department for clarification about the legality, and the officers responded in force with at least three squad cars. She said she didn't think that was an overreaction, again because of the memories of the 2005 shootings.

The church will probably now post a sign banning guns, Sewel said, but it has no grudge against Sutterfield.

"We'd be happy to have her come back," Sewel said. "Just don't bring a gun."

Gun rights advocates are riding some momentum lately. Last year, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen advised law enforcement that open-carry was not, in itself, a basis for a charge of disorderly conduct. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment right of most individuals to possess firearms applies to the states, and within a day, one Wisconsin district attorney said he would no longer prosecute cases of concealed carry or transporting uncased or loaded guns in vehicles. A challenge to Wisconsin law banning guns within 1,000 feet of a school is pending in federal court.

Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry Inc., called the state "behind the times" for prohibiting transport of loaded guns, which most states allow.

"Wisconsin Carry advocates that people follow all Wisconsin firearm regulations, even those we find patently unconstitutional, until such time as we are able to change those laws through legal challenges and/or legislative changes," Clark said.

Jeri Bonavia, executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, disagrees with the basic open-carry tenet that armed law-abiding people deter criminals.

"When people make a decision to carry a gun or that a gun will keep them safer, they have the opportunity to analyze risks and benefits. They get to decide," she Bonavia said. "But when they bring it into public, they're forcing their analysis on all of us."

Broad research shows, she said, that "guns, overall, do not promote public or personal safety."

Bruce Vielmetti thumbnail
About Bruce Vielmetti

Bruce Vielmetti writes about legal affairs.

0 Share Tweet Print
NewsWatch

Motorcyclist killed in Dane County crash Updated: 9:32 p.m.

Jockey taps veteran to 'Show 'Em What's Underneath' Updated: 8:36 p.m.

Watchdog Update: Todd Dyer, the ‘bring it on’ felon, indicted for 3rd time Updated: 8:06 p.m.

Paul Ryan says he's on the same page with Donald Trump on trade Updated: 7:30 p.m.

Southwest Airlines tries to balance strong brand and the need to grow revenues 6:46 p.m.

Exact Sciences executive attends Cancer Moonshot Summit 6:25 p.m.

Time is running out to get free upgrade to Windows 10 6:25 p.m.

Means resigns as leader of Milwaukee turnaround district Updated: 6:21 p.m.

Beyond fast food: New franchising ideas draw entrepreneurs 6:03 p.m.

Microsoft CEO Nadella to pen book about changes in his life 5:55 p.m.

Istanbul airport attackers seized on chaos to cause carnage 5:31 p.m.

Groups to provide $1 million for YMCA’s urban mission Updated: 5:07 p.m.

Madison utility company to be added to S&P 500 stock index 5:02 p.m.

Vans, car stolen in burglary at Cedarburg dealership Updated: 5:01 p.m.

Fed gives approval to 30 banks to increase dividends, buy back shares 5:00 p.m.

DNR’s report on Kohler golf course spurs concerns 4:47 p.m.

Marcus considers downtown tower that would include cinema Updated: 4:17 p.m.

Obituary: Writer, educator Lukes instilled respect for nature 4:11 p.m.

S&P assigns debt ratings to Johnson Controls automotive business Updated: 3:54 p.m.

S.C. Johnson CEO testifies before Senate panel on Zika virus Updated: 3:44 p.m.

Referendum will be held to decide fate of Forest Park Middle School 3:15 p.m.

Milwaukee police search for man who pointed a gun at man downtown 3:07 p.m.

Indoor sports complex pitched for Jackson 2:53 p.m.

Truck hits, kills 83-year-old woman crossing street in Bay View 2:47 p.m.

Man remains in custody in fatal shooting in Milwaukee 2:30 p.m.

Initial Reaction Podcast: A look ahead to US Open 2017, look back at Champions Tour event in Madison Updated: 2:00 p.m.

Jury dismissed after deadlocking in Berit Beck murder trial 1:36 p.m.

Stegman is new president of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1:15 p.m.

Canadian bank to buy parent company of The PrivateBank 12:16 p.m.

Green Sheet: When RFK slipped into Appleton for McCarthy’s funeral 11:28 a.m.

Meijer says Waukesha store to open on Aug. 2 Updated: 11:06 a.m.

Summerfest 2016: Follow the action at Summerfest 11:00 a.m.

Summerfest 2016: Milwaukee band Direct Hit! opening for Blink-182 at Marcus Amphitheater 10:53 a.m.

Patti Guerrero: Guerrero battled health challenges by giving to family, co-workers 10:52 a.m.

Man found guilty of vandalizing Wales Elementary School, causing $70,000 of damge 10:45 a.m.

Authorities ID body found in Lake Michigan in Kenosha 9:53 a.m.

Delafield residents call for restrictions on national political campaign spending 9:40 a.m.

Walker's Point strip club loses fight to delay 90-day closure 9:32 a.m.

Wife speaks out after fireworks incident involving war vet 9:22 a.m.

Suspect held as FBI transcribes tapes in Masonic center plot 9:00 a.m.

Village of Mukwonago's sex offender residency ordinance takes effect June 30 8:45 a.m.

On Tap Today: Summerfest, of course 8:25 a.m.

PolitiFact: Do doctors kill 250,000 people every year in botched surgeries? 5:00 a.m.

Spike Brewing provides custom equipment for homebrewers 5:00 a.m.

Jim Stingl: Electronic artist catches Summerfest scammer in the act 5:00 a.m.

Dodgers 6, Brewers 5: Dodgers' defense shuts down Brewers' late rally Yesterday
11:50 p.m.

Buddy Ryan, NFL coach and defensive mastermind, dies at 85 10:13 p.m.

Missing Waukesha County teen found unharmed 9:53 p.m.

Warmer temperatures expected in Milwaukee Wednesday 9:41 p.m.

Wisconsin’s appeal on abortion turned away by Supreme Court 9:23 p.m.

Advertisement

Photo Galleries

Advertisement