UPDATE: Richland County Standoff

UPDATED Friday, April 3, 2009 --- 8:35 a.m.

RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. (AP) -- A rural Viola man convicted of shooting at SWAT teams during an all-day standoff last April was sentenced Thursday to 48 years in prison.

A jury in February convicted 61-year-old Robert Bayliss on 13 of 17 charges, including attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

Richland County investigators said Bayliss fired at tactical teams with a high powered rifle and had dozens of other weapons in his house during the standoff last April 3. It started when deputies tried to serve him with a lawsuit evicting him for failure to pay property taxes.

It ended when a fire broke out in the home and he surrendered.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 10, 2009 --- 12:15 p.m.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) -- A man accused of shooting at deputies during a standoff at his 18-acre property in Viola has been convicted of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and a dozen other charges.

A jury found 61-year-old Robert Bayliss guilty on 13 of 17 charges Monday night.

Investigators say Bayliss had at least 90 weapons in his home during the April 3 standoff that started when deputies tried to serve him with a lawsuit evicting him for failure to pay property taxes. They say Bayliss fired on tactical teams with a high powered rifle before a fire broke out in his home and he surrendered.

Bayliss had claimed the deputies were trespassing. Online court records show the lawsuit over his property remains open, but his address is listed as the Richland County Jail.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATE: Sunday, May 18, 2008 -- 5:40pm

A man accused in day-long standoff with deputies, last month, in Viola wouldn't talk directly about whether he fired a gun.

But, 60-year-old Bob Bayliss did tell the Wisconsin State Journal of his growing disenchantment with county government.

Bayliss faces nine felonies, including attempted homicide, after the standoff that ended after an exchange of gunfire, deployment of tear gas and a fire at his 18-acre property April third.

In an interview at the Richland County Jail, he said his growing disenchantment with county government stemmed from two incidents.

One was a road-widening project that resulted in the loss of his well, which forced him to spend the past several years filling big blue plastic barrels with water from springs and friend's sources. And the second was a visit by Richland County authorities in 2000 to deliver a tax delinquency notice for taxes he said he had already paid.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATE Wednesday, April 9 --- 8:50am

VIOLA, Wis. (AP) -- Attempted homicide charges have been filed against a Richland County man accused in a shootout with sheriff's deputies.

The attempted homicide charges are among nine filed against Robert Bayliss.

The 60-year-old man who authorities say has "strong anti-government attitudes" surrendered after a daylong standoff last Thursday -- but not before an exchange of gunfire, deployment of tear gas and a fire at his cabin in rural Viola.

The dispute had started four days earlier when some deputies tried to serve Bayliss with a lawsuit seeking to evict him for failure to pay property taxes dating back to 2001.

Deputies used special armored vehicles when they tried to serve legal papers last week. The vehicles' thick, bullet-proof windshields are marked with gunshots.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Friday --- April 4, 2008 -- 4:05pm

New details have been released Friday about the standoff situation near Viola on Thursday.

The suspect, Robert Bayliss, is currently being held in the Richland County Jail.

Authorities say when they tried to disarm him Thursday he began throwing explosive devices.

At that point a fire broke out from inside his residence, possibly caused by the homemade grenades.

Bayliss is currently facing several charges including 2 counts of first degree attempted homicide.

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UPDATED Thursday --- April 3, 2008 --- 9:28pm

"It's shocking actually," says Joseph Brannan as authorities close off the street near his home.

An armed standoff with police finally comes to an end with no injuries and the suspect in custody. But some neighbors are still trying to piece together the details of what happened less than a mile away from from their home.

"I wasn't home when this started and when I got home it was already in progress."

Police were trying to contact 61 year old Robert Bayliss on Monday at his home on County Highway G near Viola. They say he shot at officers when they served him with lawsuit papers for owing more than 5 thousand dollars in back taxes on his 18 acre property, money authorities say hasn't been paid since 2001. Now on Thursday, three days later, authorities finally have him in custody.

"We did have the area being watched and monitored constantly throughout that time period," says Richland County Sheriff Department lieutenant, Bob Frank. "It was during that time period that we build the base that we needed to and get a hold of the people we thought we need to to start finding the solution."

After a nearly 9 hour standoff with authorities the home Bayliss was hiding in caught fire and a thick cloud of smoke could be seen billowing from the home for miles in nearby cities.

"I've been staying in because I don't want to get in their way," says Brannan. "I think most of us like to think that things like this don't happen to us but unfortunately no body is safe from this sort of thing."

Once the fire started, Bayliss surrendered. He's currently held in custody as the investigation continues.

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UPDATED Thursday --- April 3, 2008 --- 7:20pm

Wis. man surrenders after standoff over land dispute

VIOLA, Wis. (AP) -- A landowner known to have "strong anti-government attitudes" has surrendered after a day long standoff with authorities at Viola in Richland County.

Authorities say officers tried to contact the man through the day, and when they tried again in the afternoon, they were fired upon and returned fire, as well as deploying tear gas.

As the operation was going on, a fire started in the home, and soon after that, 60-year-old Robert Bayliss surrendered and was taken into custody of the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

No one was injured.

AP

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UPDATED: Thursday --- April 3, 2008 -- 5:28pm

A stand-off is going on between several departments and a landowner in Richland County on Thursday afternoon.

It's bringing together departments from all over Southern Wisconsin.

NBC-15's Evrod Cassimy is near the scene and says the armed stand-off has now turned into a structure fire.

Thursday night, the home where Robert Bayliss was hiding from authorities caught fire and now clouds of black smoke can be seen billowing from the Village of Viola.

Police say the man inside, Robert Bayliss, shot at officers when they tried to serve him lawsuit papers on Monday for money he owed in back-taxes.

Thursday, 3 days later, tactical response teams from Dane, Vernon, LaCrosse and Richland Counties have finalized a plan and as of 9:00 am began attempting to disarm him.

County Highway G is completely closed off and although there is no immediate threat to the public, one home has been evacuated.

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Posted Thursday --- April 3, 2008 --- 4:25pm

Tactical officers raid rural Richland County property

VIOLA, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities say a landowner known to have strong anti-government attitudes is in a standoff with police today after firing shots at officers four days earlier.

Richland County Sheriff Darrell Berglin says tactical officers from Vernon, La Crosse and Richland counties are involved in the standoff at a rural Viola home.

The county's corporation counsel, Benjamin Southwick, says the dispute started Monday when deputies tried to serve 60 year-old Robert Bayliss in a lawsuit seeking to evict him for failure to pay property taxes back to 2001 on his home and 18 acres.

Southwick says the county took ownership of the land last November for the unpaid taxes.

According to the county treasurer's office, Bayliss owes $5,647 in delinquent taxes and interest on the land and has not paid the taxes for 7 years.

Authorities say SWAT officers used an armored vehicle to try to serve a search warrant and arrest warrants at the home today but they encountered shots and ended up in a standoff.

AP

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Posted Thursday --- April 3, 2008 --- 1:15pm

Tactical officers raid rural Richland County property

TOWN OF FOREST, Wis. (AP) -- Tactical officers from Vernon, La Crosse and Richland counties are involved in a standoff at a rural property in northwestern Richland County.

SWAT officers used an armored vehicle to serve a search warrant and arrest warrants at a residence in the Town of Forest in southwest Wisconsin.

Richland County Sheriff's Lieutenant Bob Frank says officers were shot at while trying to serve papers at the home on Monday.

So, deputies from the three counties developed a plan and then raided the property early Thursday.

AP


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