Bartender shot, wounded by police as they stop attempted robbery

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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Faced with an armed robber, a Sheboygan bartender says he did what he was supposed to do. He got the suspect out of the tavern, and no one inside was hurt.

Police would eventually shoot and kill the suspect — but the bartender wasn’t able to escape injury.

Kurt Klessig told FOX6 News he watched the armed man leave the Union Avenue Tap with money, but without firing a single shot from his automatic rifle.

Just as a wave of relief started to set in for Klessig, shots were fired.

37-year-old Kevin Higgins was fatally shot by Sheboygan Police Officers Brandon Kehoe and Anthony Hamilton early on July 17th. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco on July 29th announced the officers were justified in their use of deadly force.

In describing the incident, DeCecco indicated Higgins was dressed head-to-toe in camouflage clothing, armed with a rifle and exiting the Union Avenue Tap after taking money. That’s when he immediately encountered Officers Hamilton and Kehoe.

“It shows the subject facing the officer and squaring into a shooting stance, bringing the butt of the AR-15 to his shoulder, and raising the muzzle toward the officer,” DeCecco said.

The officers then opened fire on Higgins. Higgins fell back into the bar, still holding his weapon. He died on the scene.

DeCecco indicated Higgins suffered six gunshot wounds.

“When I went behind that bar, and I saw all the blood, I was like, ‘I don’t even know what to think.’ I thought I lost him,” Mary Heitzmann, Kurt Klessig’s fiancee said.

Klessig was shot during the attempted armed robbery at Union Avenue Tap on July 17th — but not by Higgins.

“You look down, and your arm is hanging down,” Klessig said.

His right forearm was shattered by one of the bullets fired by two Sheboygan police officers.

“I had to pick up my hand and set it on top of the bar,” Klessig said.

Flight for Life took Klessig to Froedtert Hospital, where his treatment began.

Klessig said he doesn’t have a clue what the total tally is at this point, as it relates to his medical bills, but he knows they’ll cost more than he makes as a school custodian.

“I honestly thought the city would step up and say ‘you know, we did this. We’ll make it right,'” Klessig said.

To be clear, Klessig said he doesn’t blame the firing officers one bit for what happened. But while Sheboygan police have referred him to the state’s “Victim Assistance Program,” he told FOX6 News he would like more help from the city.

“They hit my buddy’s car with a snowplow last winter and they recouped all of his losses to him. So a human being, I get shot through the arm, they disable me, and I haven’t even been contacted by them,” Klessig said.

Klessig said he has contacted several attorneys, but all of them have declined to represent him in this matter.


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