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Knife-wielding man at West Bend polling place charged

Knife-wielding man at West Bend polling place charged

WEST BEND, Wis. — A 38-year-old man who was arrested and charged after wielding a knife to “stop the voting” at the West Bend Library during Tuesday’s midterm elections was out on bail in connection to “hate speech” notes found taped to downtown businesses, according to a criminal complaint.

Michael J. Miecielica was charged with election threats, terrorist threats, negligent handling of a weapon, five counts of misdemeanor bail jumping, criminal damage to property, and three counts of disorderly conduct – all with use of a dangerous weapon modifiers.

On Tuesday, City of West Bend police officers responded to the West Bend Community Library on Poplar Street around 12:35 pm for a report of a man with a knife. The library was being used as a polling place for the 2022 midterm elections. The man, identified as Miecielica, was demanding that voting be stopped, according to a criminal complaint.

When officers arrived, Miecielica was at the front counter grasping the hilt of a hunting knife, which had been stabbed into the countertop, the complaint says.

Miecielica was arrested without incident. In police bodycam footage released from the incident, an officer points his gun at Miecielica, demanding he drop his weapon and get on the ground. Miecielica immediately got to the floor and admitted to having four boxcutter knives in his backpack.

RELATED: WATCH: Police release bodycam video after man wields knife at West Bend polling place

According to the complaint, when Miecielica was asked what happened, he answered, “I did it here because I didn’t want to disturb the children… I did it so she would call the cops because I am a bad person and should go to jail.” Miecielica allegedly told authorities he stabbed the counter to prove he is a bad person.

A library employee said after Miecielica stabbed the counter, he told her “in a slow, serious voice, to call the police right now.” The complaint says 18 library employees or volunteers sheltered in a back room during the incident.

A witness said she heard Miecielica say he hung some posters downtown. According to the criminal complaint, Miecielica is the same person who hung “vulgar notes across downtown West Bend.”

RELATED: ‘Hate speech’ notes found taped to West Bend businesses, police seek suspect

The West Bend Police Department previously said numerous handwritten notes were found taped to business windows along Main Street on Monday, Oct. 31. Police said the notes contained statements of hate speech and referenced candidates from both political parties.

According to the complaint, Miecielica told authorities he “saw children present in the library and tried to usher them away as he did not want the children to get hurt.” Miecielica also allegedly said he “snapped and was a bad person” and “did not mean for things to go this far.” Miecielica said he has been scared for the past 10 years because of “all the political things going on.”

He said he initially planned to use a baseball bat because it was “less dangerous than a knife.” He planned to make threats at the library in an effort to stop the voting process and get re-arrested, the complaint says.

On the day of the incident, Miecielica said he deleted a manifesto from his laptop that he wrote in 2019. He said the manifesto detailed a plan to detonate a bomb at the border because he was upset with immigration policies. According to the complaint, he deleted it because he didn’t feel that way anymore.

Miecielica said he went to the store and purchased a knife and two beers to “take the edge off before entering the library.” Before the incident, Miecielica used the library bathroom and “looked into the mirror for two to three minutes” to be sure he wanted to go through with his plan.

The complaint says Miecielica intentionally created a disturbance with the intent to provoke a police response. The man allegedly told investigators that disrupting the election process would ensure an immediate police response.

Miecielica said he had no intention of hurting anyone, and instead his plan was to “wave the knife around and scream ‘I want the voting to stop. I’m sick of fascism. Blah, blah, blah.'”

According to court records, Miecielica posted $1,000 bail on Thursday, Nov. 3. for several disorderly conduct charges. He is now being held on a $50,000 bond and will appear in court on Monday, Nov. 28 for a hearing.

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