Man armed with gun demanding to speak to Gov. Evers has no criminal history, records show

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Oct 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-06 18:07:41-04

MADISON — The public still has open access to the Capitol this week, even after a man went inside armed with a gun, twice in one day.

We looked into the suspect, Joshua Pleasnick. The 43-year-old has no criminal history in the state of Wisconsin.

He’s accused of illegally bringing a handgun into the Wisconsin Capitol on Wednesday, demanding to see Gov. Tony Evers, and returning at night with an assault rifle after posting bail, a spokesperson for the state said.

The man, who was shirtless and had a holstered handgun, approached the governor's office on the first floor of the Capitol around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, state Department of Administration spokesperson Tatyana Warrick said Thursday. The man was demanding to see the governor, who was not in the building at the time, Warrick said. Capitol Police say the man wanted to speak to the governor about ‘domestic abuse towards men.’

A Capitol police officer sits at a desk outside of a suite of rooms that includes the governor's office, conference room and offices for the attorney general.

The man was taken into custody for openly carrying a firearm in the Capitol, which is against the law, Warrick said. Weapons can be brought into the Capitol if they are concealed and the person has a valid permit. The man arrested did not have a concealed carry permit, Warrick said.

The man was booked into the Dane County Jail but later posted bail.

He returned to the outside of the Capitol shortly before 9 p.m. with an rifle, Warrick said. The building closes to the public at 6 p.m. He again demanded to see the governor and was taken into custody.

Madison police reported Thursday that the man, was taken into productive custody and taken to the hospital. A spokesperson for the police department did not return an email seeking additional details. On Friday, Warrick confirmed the suspect is still being evaluated.

The public has free access to the Capitol daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are no metal detectors. We asked people visiting the Capitol Building Friday if they think that should change.

“A better answer than force against force, is trust,” said Norman Engvall.

Janet Schumaker said, “I've always appreciated this beautiful building is open to everyone.”

Capitol Police say they never make public if or when security levels change, and this time will be no different.

The incident is just the latest in a series of violent threats against public officials.

Evers, a Democrat, was on a hit list of a gunman suspected of fatally shooting a retired county judge at his Wisconsin home in 2022. Others on that list included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Whitmer was the target of a kidnapping plot in 2020.