OLYMPIA - A 25-year-old sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was arrested at his in-laws' Olympia home near Black Lake early New Year's Day after witnesses said he entered a neighbor's house uninvited and brandished a handgun, court papers state.
When Thurston County sheriff’s deputies made contact with the soldier, he was holding a pistol to his own head. The soldier set the gun down after the deputies ordered him to do so at gunpoint, Thurston County sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said.
Sgt. Joseph Lee Winkelman, who returned to Olympia in August after a one-year deployment to Iraq with a Stryker brigade, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree burglary. He was in the process of being released from the Thurston County Jail on Monday on his personal recognizance, meaning he did not have to post bail.
Elwin said the incident was extremely dangerous for responding sheriff’s deputies and that they are fortunate they were able to disarm Winkelman peacefully.
Winkelman’s neighbor had called 911 after 1 a.m. New Year’s Day after Winkelman suddenly opened his front door, came into the home and announced, “I’m in the military, I’m big and bad and wanted to make it known that I’m your neighbor,” court papers state. Winkelman’s neighbor was celebrating New Year’s at his home with some friends.
According to court papers:
When the neighbor confronted Winkelman to find out why he had just walked into his residence, Winkelman became agitated and said that he had a gun. Winkelman then pulled a handgun out from under his shirt.
The neighbor said Winkelman appeared intoxicated. The neighbor was able to grab the handgun and strip the magazine. One of Winkelman’s friends then showed up at the residence and helped remove Winkelman.
There is no evidence that Winkelman and his neighbor had any kind of dispute prior to the incident early Saturday morning, Elwin said.
After the neighbor called 911, two sheriff’s deputies went to the house where Winkelman resides in the 7700 block of Mazama Road Southwest. One of the deputies noted in his report that he had been to the residence two days earlier after a report that Winkelman was intoxicated and that his wife was “concerned what he was going to do with his gun.”
One of the responding sheriff’s deputies saw through a window that two men were arguing in the kitchen and that one of them pulled out a handgun and held it to his own head, “as if ready to shoot.” The deputy pointed his handgun at the man and ordered him to put down the gun. The man who was holding the pistol, later identified as Winkelman, “tossed the gun into a box of Lucky Charms that the other male was holding.”
Winkelman admitted “he was the guy who took his gun over to his neighbor’s house.” Winkelman’s friend said they had fired the gun outside at midnight, and then Winkelman stated, “I want to go wish my neighbors a happy New Year.” Winkelman’s wife later told a deputy that Winkelman had “emptied an entire clip into the air at midnight.”
According to court papers, Winkelman’s neighbors “do not wish to strongly pursue this issue.”
Court officials have recommended that Winkelman reside at Lewis-McChord until the case is resolved.