December 29, 2004 in Idaho

Shootout leaves man dead, CdA police officer wounded

Staff writer
 
Kathy Plonka photo

A police detective looks for evidence at the scene of an early morning shooting in Hayden on Tuesday that left one man dead and a Coeur d’Alene police officer critically wounded. Officer Michael Kralicek was shot in the face at close range.
(Full-size photo)

A 39-year-old vacuum cleaner salesman who apparently tried to grab a police officer’s gun two weeks ago, was shot and killed in a ferocious gunbattle that left a Coeur d’Alene police officer severely wounded just after midnight Tuesday.

Officer Michael Kralicek, 35, was shot at close range as he chased 39-year-old Michael Madonna into a house in Hayden at 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.

Police say three officers were questioning Madonna in his driveway about an earlier hit-and-run accident – and a possible petty theft – when Madonna broke away and raced inside.

Kralicek and one of the deputies apparently ran after Madonna.

A friend of Madonna’s said Madonna kept a loaded .357 Magnum revolver in a coffee table just inside the house. Police say Madonna grabbed a revolver, spun and shot Kralicek in the face from about six feet away before being fatally wounded by gunfire from the other two officers.

Neighbors said they were awakened by the sound of gunfire. Several of the neighbors said they dived out of their beds and hit the floor, surprised by sounds in the tidy and quiet Grouse Meadows subdivision near U.S. Highway 95 and Prairie Avenue.

The deputies performed CPR on both Kralicek and Madonna, sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Ben Wolfinger said.

Kralicek at first was able to respond to questions by squeezing his hand, Sheriff Rocky Watson said, but then “he became unresponsive.” By 7 a.m., the officer was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition.

Kralicek was stable after surgery at Harborview Tuesday afternoon, said Sgt. Christie Wood, information officer for the Coeur d’Alene police. Madonna was pronounced dead at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene.

The other officers at the scene, deputies with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, were not injured. They have been placed on administrative leave and, by department policy, are not being identified, Watson said.

From the street, 28 evidence markers were visible going up the driveway and into the garage. At least 20 were marking the location of shell casings.

“It was a gunbattle. They were fighting for their lives,” Watson said.

Police have not said how many shots were fired.

Watson, appearing weary by early afternoon in the Sheriff’s Department lobby, said, “This started in the evening with some suspicious activity – I’m not sure if it was a burglary or a petty theft – then it turned into a hit-and-run.” Three hours later, Watson said, it turned into a deadly confrontation. “I was just in there listening to the investigators talk, wondering what set this guy off.”

Madonna apparently was not someone who popped up often on police radar. But friends said the man, who had frequently seemed depressed, began acting strangely since his arrest Dec. 17 for suspicion of drunken driving and a second charge of battery for attempting to take a firearm from a police officer.

According to police reports, Madonna was pulled over after witnesses say his truck was driving erratically in Coeur d’Alene on the evening of Dec. 17. After completing field sobriety tests, Madonna tried to run when city officers told him he was under arrest, the reports say. He was twice stunned by a Taser – a gun that delivers a powerful electric jolt – before he was subdued and handcuffed.

On the way to the jail, however, he apparently slipped his cuffed hands under his buttocks and legs, freeing his arms, and knocked open the slider separating him from the officer in the front seat. Madonna “instantly had his whole upper body through the cage,” the police report states, and began scuffling with the officer and “reached down … in the direction of my gun.”

An officer in a second car and an off-duty jailer passing by rushed to the officer’s assistance and Madonna was placed in shackles.

“I don’t want him to seem like some crazy. He was not a violent person,” Chris Schell, who sold vacuum cleaners for the same company as Madonna, said Tuesday. In April 2003, “he had an 18-year marriage end in divorce. He had a little brother commit suicide at 16. Mike was really unhappy with his life.”

Yet, Schell said, Madonna also had a pool table in his garage, a swimming pool in the back yard and would invite friends and co-workers over for barbecues or just to hang out. He was involved in pet rescue and his only statement in the written minutes of his first court appearance on the DUI and battery charges Dec. 20 was a concern to find someone to feed the three dogs at his house.

Two friends of Madonna’s said the man seemed especially agitated Tuesday night. Schell said Madonna called him and said he had stolen either beer or a street sign – Schell wasn’t sure which – and then was chased by some people, slid on an icy road and banged his 1999 Chevy Silverado into one of the brick walls at the entrance to Grouse Meadows.

Neighbors said Madonna’s truck was making a horrible screeching noise as it came down the street at about that time. One said she watched Madonna run into his house but not turn on any lights. A second pickup truck and a police cruiser arrived soon after, but then eventually everybody went away and Starling Street once more became quiet.

A woman who was at Madonna’s house Monday evening said Madonna was agitated when he returned about 9:30 p.m. and asked her to stay and talk with him.

“He needed somebody to talk to. He was very skittish and kind of paranoid,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be identified. “He kept saying stuff like ‘Whatever happens, take my stuff. This is all yours.’ I could not comprehend a lot of what he was saying.”

Schell, too, said Madonna in recent days would call friends to say he loved them or to talk about how he was about to lose all his possessions. He appeared obsessed with the notion he would be spending years in prison on the assault charge because he could not afford an attorney.

“He had it planned, I’m sure of it. This is a bad story of using cops to commit suicide,” Schell said. “He didn’t see a way out. He kept talking about how he was going to lose everything.

“I said, ‘You’ll still have your friends.’ But that wasn’t enough, I guess,” Schell said.


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