The crime at Culver’s — this one is different

Few recent crime stories have been as compelling or infuriating as the early Tuesday morning burglary/homicide at the Culver’s restaurant off the Beltline, an eatery that thousands of Madisonians frequent, including this bloggeur.

That, alone, brings it home to much of Madison. This one is different, perhaps because most crimes are committed in an instant, involve acquaintances or family members, and are committed in a private or at a little known place — not a heavily trafficked Culver’s. (A well run business that does not deserve the notoriety. In a way, a victim itself.)

This one is different because the victims were innocent strangers in the wrong place at the wrong time — rather than a domestic dispute, a long-running feud over some imagined slight, or a drug deal gone bad.

Police Chief Mike Koval (is he the most quoted man in Madison?) perfectly captured the zeitgeist as he always does:

“There was a certain vileness, a certain despicability about the whole thing because … you had an instance where the victim was scared to the point of death.” 

And forbidden medical attention. The crime dragged out over a torturous hour. Four hard-working family men, a close-knit team, are surprised while on a construction job in the darkness of night. Held at gunpoint. Their work crew leader is forced to use the tools of his trade to break open the safe. The man’s heart gives out after the ordeal. The heartless criminals refuse the co-workers’ pleas for medical attention, including that of the stricken man’s stepson.

The four hostages are well known, accomplished, and respected — particularly their leader.

We’ve seen this tense scenario play out on the screen: a gun aimed at the honest tradesman ordered to bust open the safe. The bad guy yells Faster! Faster! The screaming drill is pressed harder; metal shavings are flying, the bit is overheating. The gun barrel presses against his head for emphasis. Except on the screen, the good guys get their justice and some flash-bang vengeance before the final credits. Real life is more tragic.

The crime at our local Culver’s is all the more tragic for the unspoken but unmistakable race factor. Will this black-on-white crime stoke the latent racism that progressives from Barack Obama to the average Madison alder swear lurks deep within every white psyche? Or will the reaction to this crime — the likely calls for more policing and less fettered — inflame the race baiters ready to pounce on any micro-agression?

This story has what we journalists would call “legs.” It will reverberate. Madison, we need to talk.

A new Support our Police petition is up.

A quick shout-out to my former Capital Times colleague; back then, he was a sports writer specializing in golf coverage. Good job WI State Journal reporter Rob Schultz for a well sourced and humanizing account of Mr. Chris E. Kneubuehl — the circumstances of his victimization and the triumphs of a life well lived.


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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20 Responses to The crime at Culver’s — this one is different

  1. Balboa says:

    This is one of the most Sadistic Crimes to hit Madison. This is not Work Place Violence caused by a gun but the outcome was the same. It is about opportunistic Thugs, hell bent of fulfilling their hedonistic desires whatever that vice may have been at the time. now when they are caught and they will be caught that is 2 more lives with the potential to do good and become part of society wasted. If they come forward and do the right thing and turn themselves in at least there is hope for their souls. If not, it is time to get “medieval on their @$$$eSS”

    Madison council and Dane County Government wake up, stop playing social experiments with Tax Payers lives and implement Broken Window policies now, quit debating edible landscapes and sustainable plans and building safe spaces for the naive youth. Because these things mean nothing if society decays around you. Join with Dane County and get the State of the art Jail and Rehab facility Built and finally give the Sheriff and MPD,and work with other satellite communities to help blighted neighborhoods and neighborhood watches to force these Thugs out of Dane County and Wisconsin. No More!

    Please will pay taxes for things that are tried and true. All ideas on the table but in the end, let the Best Police Force in the Country do it jobs as they have always done. Madison has one of the best Police Chiefs in the nation, I am biased, just listen the man speak. Never met him, but this is a man who cares, has the chops to lead his men and women to do the right thing.

    Let him do his job and give him all the tools he needs.


    • John Thompson says:

      Just a couple of points: Violence is never caused by a gun or any other tool. It’s the person who does it, always.
      Second, the best police chief or officers in the world can’t do a damn thing when the DA’s and judges won’t prosecute for the actual crime, but instead go for easy slam-dunk plea bargains to preserve their conviction ratio, or give light sentences in the name of social justice or whatever misguided liberal morals they follow instead of the law. We have see this happening in Milwaukee county, much to the public’s dismay and cost


  2. madisonexpat says:

    Is black on white crime hate crime?
    I mean, in Madison?


  3. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Madison is now averaging a homicide a month, a rate which will only increase. The homicide before this one was perpetrated by a crack addict who had previously been arrested on a raft of charges including domestic battery but was released on probation (Madison’s restorative justice at work). But let’s put this deplorable trend in context. The boosters and Babbitts who are so thrilled to see Madison turning into a big city have no trouble blithely ignoring the crime, congestion and inflated cost of living that are inevitable byproducts of that transformation. What “we need to talk” about is the need to curb population growth, the root of most if not all the ills that plague our city these days.


  4. H.R. Pufnstuf says:


    I here Soylent Green wants to invest and build a new facility in Madison help us get to paradise. The homeless will never be hungry and population growth with be held in check.

    Seriously, population in check. Madison’s tax base is shrinking, because people that WORK and want to raise a family are leaving the city in droves to head to satellite communities so they do not have pay for the liberal-crap-tastic ideas that are supposed help the population. The void is being filled by more and more TAKERS. So Madison slowly decays mean while the County and Madison are ruled by people who live in La La land


    • old baldy says:


      Interesting link to the past. A lot of unsubstantiated claims by the squire. And a definate agressive attitude toward his “liberal” co-guest on WPR.

      Some things never change.


      • David Blaska says:

        Anyone have an idea what this guy is talking about?


      • H.R. Pufnstuf says:

        Sorry, all guests and hosts on WPR are assumed to be “Liberal” so it would make more sense to say A “Conservative” David Blaska attempted to bring the contemptuous co-guest into reality but stating Facts. Aggressive towards his liberal co-guest you are laughable at best Baldy.

        Edible Landscapes, Bike Path Round A-bouts, Central Park and Markets. How about build the frickin state of the art Jail and Rehab Facility now. Hire more Cops and support them


      • old baldy says:

        From the link provided by HRP, quoting blaska:

        “Hey kids! Catch my act on WI Public Radio’s Week in Review this Friday, April 29, from 8 to 9 a.m. 870 AM in the Madison area wherein I will go nuclear on another hapless liberal in reasoned debate”. I guess “going nuclear on another hapless liberal” isn’t aggressive. A rose by any other name……

        And it looks like several of the commenters asked dave for proof of his claims, and he declined the offer. Maybe he will at this time.


        • David Blaska says:

          Poor ol’ Baldy: “How come everybody’s always pickin’ on me?” As for any cogent ideas, facts, sources, or reasoned debate — comin’ up empty. Just snark and self-pity.


    • old baldy says:


      Do you deny you said that? And that you dodged the questions posed to you regarding your water quality claims> Or maybe HRP made all that up and made it look like it was your old blog. Pretty devilish, eh?


      • David Blaska says:

        If you can’t stay on topic, Baldy, I’ll help you get off this blog. (The old blog you referenced made the point that Madison lakes have not been “pristine” since the 1840s and that returning them to pre-settlement times would cause massive dislocation and expense.) The topic of this blog is crime. If you have nothing to add your silence is appreciated.


  5. Tom Paine says:

    “Yes, yes we can………..become like Milwaukee.”
    . At least, those were our thoughts when we moved from the tax-hell of Madison. Others wanted to argue that crime would not continue to increase in intensity and severity, nor would taxes and waste continue to explode. Surely, critics told us, the more civilized would address the downward drift.
    Two years have now passed. We were right; the myopic were wrong. Like sand through the hour-glass, it is only a question of time. Madison will become like Milwaukee. Only the blind will fail to understand the relationship between crime and the changing racial/cultural composition of metro Madison . Not association, it is causation.. The quality of life will continue to decline, even in the face of any/all progressive reforms.


  6. Why waste time comparing Madison to Milwaukee? Let’s go straight to comparing Madison to Chicago and without the nice Michigan lakefront or museums! You said it, the takers have set up shop. Look at the trend. But it’s our fault too, for electing our poor leaders, not that we had many choices. And it’s not easy running for office either against the entrenched Cabal.Too many people today don’t want to fight with city hall. They find it easier and more productive to just move their families out of Madison.. But at some point, we have to fight for what we believe, take a stand and say NO MORE! What happened at Culver’s was very sad and those responsible need to pay for their actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. madisonexpat says:

    Baldy believes Blaska has nukes. Evidence?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. madisonexpat says:

    The blog is righteously indignant about gang bangers killing an innocent man. You assert Blaska’s equivalence by citing a fairly common figure of speech.
    Ballsy, it doesn’t matter how good your research skills may be if your analyses are this stupid.


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