Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Neighbors remember man shot by deputy

by Chris Schultz

May 17, 2012

LYONS TOWNSHIP -- John W. Brown was a good, but troubled, young man.

That seems to be the consensus of people who knew him.

Brown, 22, of 1463 Meadow Lane, in the Country Estates subdivision, Lyons, died early May 5, after being shot by a Walworth County Sheriff’s deputy.

He was described as physically unimposing. A neighbor said he was about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds.

“He was a beanpole,” said Cynthia Ganka, manager of Country Estates. “He was not a troublemaker,” she added.

Ganka said a recent interview of some young girls that appeared on a Milwaukee television channel had incorrect information. The girls told the television reporter Brown had been trouble and that he would come out of his home and yell at kids.

That’s wrong, Ganka said.

Ganka said the girls got the Browns confused with another family that lives nearby.

“Did they ever come out and yell at the kids? No,” Ganka said of the Browns. She said the family was quiet.

“You hardly ever heard from either of them,” Ganka said.

She said the family was going through financial difficulties.

John’s mother lost her job, and John was out of work for several months following a shoulder injury that required surgery.

“He couldn’t help his mother and that was probably troubling him,” Ganka said.

Norma Miller has lived across the street from the Browns for 18 years. She said she remembered when they moved in. John was just 4.

She said the Browns never were a problem.

“They didn’t bother anyone,” she said. “They were quiet.”

Miller said the Browns were a one-parent family.

“His father was never in his life,” she said.

Miller said her children grew up with Brown and he was just one of the kids in the neighborhood.

She said she remembered how, during their high school years, Brown and her son would play basketball outside while listening to music.

Miller said her son, who is in the National Guard in Kentucky, and her daughter were upset when they learned of Brown’s death and how it happened.

“We felt it was senseless,” she said of the shooting.

Brown had threatened suicide before, she said. But, she said, “John did not want to die.”

Miller said Nancy Brown called the sheriff’s department to keep her son from hurting himself and to get him treatment.

“Her son needed to go to the hospital,” Miller said. “It was a call for help,” she said of the last call to the sheriff’s department. “And he wasn’t helped.

“It was mishandled, as far as I’m concerned,” Miller said.

Miller said she is good friends with Brown’s mother, Nancy Brown.

“John was a good kid,” she said.

He had some problems, she added. She said he had ADHD in school and had to take medication for that.

Brown could have a hot temper, she said. But generally, he just wanted attention. And he wanted to be the center of attention.

Brown worked as a technician, changing oil in cars, at the Lake Geneva Chevrolet dealership on Wells Street in Lake Geneva.

“He was so happy to have that job,” Miller said.

Brown’s mother recently lost her $400 a week job as a beautician and he was off work because of a shoulder injury.

Duane Hill, Brown’s boss at Lake Geneva GM Supercenter, 715 S Wells St., Lake Geneva, said the young man was a “good lube tech.” He said Brown was a good employee, never late for work.

“He never had any issues,” Hill said.

Hill said Brown and his mother were at the dealership on the day before the shooting. He said Nancy Brown brought her car in to be serviced.

“He was excited about coming back to work,” Hill said. “He missed being at work.”

He said Brown was trying to get into some courses at Gateway and was having some trouble using the school’s online registration.

“He was supposed to come back to work June 18,” said Hill. “We had his tools waiting for him.”