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Lone survivor remembers shootings, faces surgery

MARSHFIELD -- The lone survivor of the Crandon shooting rampage, 21-year-old Charlie Neitzel, never lost consciousness during the early Sunday assault and remembers everything that happened, his family said Monday night.

MARSHFIELD -- The lone survivor of the Crandon shooting rampage, 21-year-old Charlie Neitzel, never lost consciousness during the early Sunday assault and remembers everything that happened, his family said Monday night.

Neitzel was in serious condition at St. Joseph's Hospital, recovering from serious gunshot wounds to his upper arm, shoulder and leg.

"He tried to talk (gunman Tyler Peterson) out of his actions and tried to jump on him," said Neitzel's mother, Carole Neitzel, 47, outside her son's room. She said her son had critical injuries but was stable late Monday.

Neitzel's mother said Charlie asked Peterson not to shoot him. After being shot, "he dove into a corner and pretended to be dead."

The off-duty sheriff's deputy who shot Neitzel and killed six others told a friend he had gone to his ex-girlfriend's house hoping to patch up their relationship.

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It didn't work. Charlie Neitzel watched as, one by one, Peterson, 20, shot six young people at a pizza party, including one of Neitzel's best friends, Aaron "Chunk" Smith, 20. The other victims were identified as Jordanne Murray, 18, Peterson's ex-girlfriend; Katrina McCorkle, 18; Lianna Thomas, 18; Bradley Schultz, 20; and Lindsey Stahl, 14.

Peterson, 20, a Forest County sheriff's deputy and part-time Crandon police officer, reportedly said he lost control when they got into an argument and her friends began calling him a "worthless pig."

"He was just very remorseful about what happened," Mike Kegley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said Peterson came to his door about five hours after the rampage early Sunday and calmly told him what happened.

"We had no idea, obviously, that anything like this would ever occur," Crandon Police Chief John Dennee told reporters Monday. Peterson was later killed in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers.

Charlie Neitzel's girlfriend, Cristen Roberts, 16, was tending to Neitzel in his hospital room Monday and said she thought Neitzel's life was spared for one reason:

"He said: 'God kept me alive so I could marry you,'" Roberts said.

Carole Neitzel also said her son wanted to clarify that Peterson and Jordanne Murray, 18, his off-again, on-again girlfriend, were not part of a love triangle. There was no other boyfriend, Charlie told his mother.

Cyle Neitzel, Charlie Neitzel's 18-year-old brother, said he wasn't sure how someone like Peterson, who was a Forest County sheriff's deputy, could have gotten a badge.

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Other young visitors to Neitzel's hospital room Monday evening came bearing balloons and cards.

Neitzel, a tall motorcycle rider who earns a living working on race trucks in a body shop, was already joking, said Neitzel's brother.

Earlier, his brother had sat up in bed and grinned at him.

"Hey guess what?"

"What?" Cyle said.

"I got shot."

Cyle said he feigned being impressed.

Carole Neitzel said she didn't know how long it would take for her son to fully recover, but that he was scheduled for surgery today to clean up some of the internal debris from his wounds.

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"There's no way to know," she said. "But he's young and determined and he says he's going to be fine."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

-- Copyright © 2007, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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