MADISON (AP) — A man accused of bringing guns to the Wisconsin state Capitol building and demanding to see Gov. Tony Evers can go free on a signature bond but can't come near the governor or his family until his case is resolved, a court commissioner ordered Thursday.
Joshua Pleasnick, 43, of Madison, made his initial court appearance Thursday morning on a misdemeanor charge of openly carrying a gun in a public building. Online court records show that Dane County Court Commissioner Scott McAndrew entered a not guilty plea on Pleasnick's behalf and set a signature bond for him. Under the terms of the bond he would have to pay $500 if he misses a court date or doesn't follow the conditions of his release.
McAndrew barred Pleasnick from possessing any type of dangerous weapon and banned him from the Capitol Square, the plaza that surrounds the Capitol building. Pleasnick's attorney, Michael Edward Covey, said during a telephone interview after the court appearance that the Capitol Square ban includes the Capitol building itself.
The court commissioner also banned Pleasnick from being on the road in front of the governor's mansion in Maple Bluff, a Madison suburb, and forbid him from coming within 1,000 feet of Evers or any members of Evers' family.
Pleasnick entered the Capitol on Oct. 4 without a shirt, guiding a dog on a leash and carrying a holstered handgun, according to prosecutors. He demanded to speak to Evers and was arrested. The governor was not in the building at the time.
Pleasnick was released later that day and returned to the Capitol later that night with a semi-automatic rifle and a baton hidden in his backpack, according to prosecutors and investigators. He again demanded to talk to Evers but the building was closed and he got arrested again.
According to a criminal complaint filed Monday, Pleasnick told a police officer he had no intention of using the weapon but wanted to speak to Evers about men who have been abused by women but aren’t getting any help from authorities.
Pleasnick later told officers he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to have the gun but carried it as protection against his ex-girlfriend, who he thought might try to harm him. He also said he was angry at “uniformed government officials” who had let him down in the court system, and that police officers he’d spoken to in the past didn’t think men could be victims of abuse, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Online court records indicate Pleasnick went through divorce proceedings in 2021.
Covey, Pleasnick's attorney, said during the telephone interview that the relatively lenient bail shows the court commissioner doesn't believe Pleasnick is a threat. Covey stressed again that Pleasnick had no intention of using his guns. He said there was reason for the no-contact order with Evers and his family but he can understand why it was put in place.
“He had no intent to harm anyone, much less the governor,” Covey said.
Deputy District Attorney William Brown told McAndrew during Thursday's proceedings that Pleasnick was having a “mental health crisis” when he went to the Capitol building, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.