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Police close Freeman Street during search


Local business owner faces charge



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GENOA CITY POLICE and the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department surrounded the former co-op on Freeman Street the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 12, while searching for a man who allegedly threatened his wife.

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December 18, 2012 | 03:20 PM
GENOA CITY — Village Police Chief Joe Balog said he heard social media networks were abuzz with news of a standoff the morning of Dec. 12 on Freeman Street.

Whether it could be classified as a standoff is debatable.

On the phone Monday, Balog said he went to the former co-op at about 8:43 a.m. last Wednesday because a parked vehicle matched the description of a suspect in a restraining order violation case. He requested backup from the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.

Someone exited a business at the co-op, and when a deputy ordered this person to raise his hands, he instead went back inside the building.

"Which prolonged our situation because he wouldn't come back out," Balog said.

For between 30 and 40 minutes, the 500 block of Freeman Street was shut down, he said.

The person, an employee at the business renting out space in the old co-op, called the Genoa City Police Department.

Balog said it appeared the man didn't know they were police officers.

A department employee convinced the man to go back outside. He allowed law enforcement agencies to search inside the business. The incident happened because police were searching for William Nettleton, 50, owner of the former co-op building. Online court records list his address as that of another business he owns, Nettleton Specialty Carriers, 407 Nettleton Way, Genoa City.

A charge of violating a foreign protection order was filed against him the same day as the incident at the former co-op.

On Dec. 13, Nettleton turned himself in peacefully to authorities.

Allegations of threats

According to Balog, police received information Dec. 11 that Nettleton threatened to kill his wife, who has an active restraining order against him in Illinois. Recently, she filed for divorce.

She told police Nettleton had been harassing her. Once it was reported by a third party that he threatened to kill her, Genoa City police issued an attempt-to-locate bulletin on him. Nettleton also had been reported to be making suicidal threats.

Balog said it was suspected that Nettleton may have been staying at the former co-op. On the morning of Dec. 12, when he visited the property, he saw a vehicle matching one known to have been used by Nettleton.

"Once we ascertained he was not there, I went back to the PD and I met the victim," Balog said.

He said he attempted to contact Nettleton by phone several times.

That evening, Nettleton contacted Balog.

He told him he traveled to Michigan.

However, he agreed to return to Genoa City and turn himself in.

Balog said he did so peacefully Dec. 13 at about 6:50 a.m.

"He denied any of these accusations against him in an interview the next day," Balog said.

But he said he didn't want to take any chances, which is why he handled the situation this way.

Balog said in light of recent events, such as the Azana Spa shooting in Brookfield, it was his goal since Dec. 11 to apprehend Nettleton and "make sure he was safe."

"The situation in Brookfield, where you have a domestic situation that got out of hand, and hearing the (violent) intentions, influenced my decision," Balog said.

He said there are two possible outcomes when something like this happens — either the person who makes homicidal or suicidal threats said something in anger and didn't mean it, or that person will try to make good on the threats.

Balog said it's better to be safe than sorry.

He also said if someone says something that, even though off-the-cuff, sounds potentially dangerous, it shouldn't be ignored.

"It's something that needs to be reported," Balog said.

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