A 20-year-old Kenosha man who terrorized 16 people inside of a Somers Kwik Trip is headed to prison after his sentencing today. On June 13, 2022 Jonathan J. Petersen entered the gas station with a knife and a fake rifle. The 16 people inside, however, believed the rifle was very real. Most of them feared for their lives. Some hid in a walk-in cooler, and others, in an office. The intended victim, was a woman who had rejected Petersen’s romantic advances months before. He then began to stalk her. On April 18, 2022, she was granted a restraining order against Petersen. For at least two months, Petersen planned this horrendous event.
At today’s hearing, an agreement was reached between the State of Wisconsin and Petersen. Petersen was initially charged with 16 counts of terrorist threats, – one for each person in the store, and violation of a temporary restraining order – both with the use of a dangerous weapon enhancers. Petersen faced more than 100 years in prison. According to the agreement, Petersen plead guilty today to stalking, two counts of making terrorist threats, and false imprisonment, all with use of a dangerous weapon enhancers. The prosecution agreed to recommend prison, but not any specific length.
The woman addressed the court first, saying “Your honor, for the past year, I’ve been trying to get far away from the defendant, Jonathan Petersen. No matter what I’ve done, he has tracked me down. He has caused me great anxiety. Finally, he’s been locked up and I’ve got a little bit of peace, knowing that he can’t come looking for me.” She then asked the judge to send Petersen to prison.
The woman’s father then addressed the court and told Judge Milisauskas that his daughter hasn’t been the same since the event. He said that his daughter will only have peace if he is locked away. He asked the court to send Petersen to prison for five years.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Rosa Delgado addressed the court and told a story about an obsessive man who couldn’t take “no” for an answer. Delgado mentioned the restraining order was “was just a piece of paper” and something horrible happened after the order was granted.
She detailed the June 13, 2022 incident stating that Petersen walked into the Kwik Trip looking for the woman and she tried to hide, but he found her. He was holding a rifle and a knife and made suicidal and homicidal statements to her. He threatened to shoot anyone who came near them. “The terror that was inflicted on many members of the community….no other sentence would be appropriate here but a prison sentence.”
Defense attorney Patrick Cafferty argued for up to a year in jail and probation, stressing the defendant’s lack of a criminal history and that he didn’t physically hurt anyone. He stated that Petersen is remorseful and has mental health issues.
Petersen then made a statement. He apologized to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and offered his sincere gratitude for the deputies keeping him safe and ending the incident peacefully. He claimed that he is “much better now” after serving more than 8 months in jail.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Anthony Milisauskas stressed just how serious the crimes were. “There were two weapons. There was a knife, and there was a rifle. And I know the rifle was kinda, the term “fake”, but unfortunately for the victims, and the people at the gas station, they had no clue that this was a fake rifle….Every day you turn on the news and you see a mass shooting…What did these poor people think when he walked into Kwik Trip with a something that looked like a rifle and a knife?…They were scared for their lives. He pointed the gun at her the entire time he spoke to her, now that’s terror…. The terror that he inflicted on the victims is way too serious here, and I’m not gonna take a chance for the community.” With that, he sentenced Petersen to 5.5 years in prison and 6 years of extended supervision.
After the sentence was handed down, a deputy escorted Petersen away, but had to tell him many times not to look at the people in the gallery. Petersen had 254 credit for time served so he will go to prison for about 4 years and 10 months. He is to have no contact with any of the victims after he is released.
Both defense attorney Patrick Cafferty and Petersen both were very happy with the outcome of the potentially fatal incident. They seem to realize how lucky Petersen is to be alive. According to reports, the first two deputies to arrive, went into the gas station alone. Sergeant Sanchez and Deputy Coultrip, who has since been promoted to Sergeant, thought the gun was real and entered the gas station with their rifles. They shouted commands at Petersen but he didn’t comply. Deputy Coultrip switched from his rifle to his taser as Sergeant Sanchez kept lethal cover on the suspect. Deputy Coultrip then deployed his taser, but it didn’t make contact due to loose clothing. The second time was successful. Sgt. Sanchez then kicked the knife away and Petersen was taken into custody and handcuffed. Everyone escaped the incident alive and unharmed, at least physically, due to theses two deputies. This isn’t the first time Deputy Coultrip saved a life. He saved a man who fell through the ice in 2020. Sergeant Sanchez is a former Marine and on the department’s SWAT team. Sheriff David Zoerner was made aware of the sentencing today and Petersen’s statements thanking his deputies for saving his life. Even though he was telling the deputies to kill him, that is the last thing they wanted to do according to the Sheriff.
“I appreciate the defendant thanking the responding deputies for their ability to end this situation with a safe resolution. Mental health is a crucial aspect of law enforcement and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office is committed to serving our community, always using the least amount of force necessary.
The deputies’ response was rapid, tactically sound, and highly effective. The store was full of traumatized victims. Several more deputies and detectives responded to the scene to assist the witnesses and victims following the traumatic incident. I would like to thank these deputies as well as all of the Sheriff’s Department staff that continually put themselves in harms way for our community.”