MADISON (NBC 26) — Fond Du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney is blaming the state for the county's decision to release a felon on bail who then killed a firefighter.
According to court documents, Ruben Houston III bailed out on $500 in May 2019 after a narcotics conviction. Twelve days later, he shot and killed an Appleton firefighter, Mitch Lundgaard, during a shootout with police. Police also shot Houston, who died shortly after.
According to Toney, Houston had changed his name, so his office was unaware of his criminal past. Otherwise, he suggests, this wouldn't have happened.
"A judge, in 2011, allowed him [Houston] to legally change his name, effectively hiding his criminal history from the public and the court," said Toney. "This is a hole in the system, and a tragic constellation of events that resulted in a firefighter dying."
Toney claims the state needs a mechanism to see that criminal records carry over in the event of a name change. His Republican opponent for State Attorney General says many tools exist to check criminal convictions and Toney failed to use them.
Lundgaard was a husband and father of three. He was the first Appleton firefighter in 86 years to die in the line of duty.