A 31-year-old man is in custody after taking five people hostage, including three children during an Eau Claire home invasion Wednesday night.
James J. Albrecht was taken into custody Wednesday after invading an apartment on Hidden Place in Eau Claire.
On Wednesday at about 1:15 p.m., the Eau Claire Communications Center received information that a vehicle had just been involved in a theft of gas in Dunn County. The dispatcher said this was the same vehicle that Eau Claire police detectives were looking for related to other investigations.
While patrolling Craig Road, an Eau Claire police officer located the vehicle with Albrecht driving. The offer followed the vehicle and made contact in a parking lot on Imperial Circle. Police said Albrecht quickly backed up toward the officer, nearly hitting the squad car.
Albrecht’s vehicle got stuck on a snowbank. Police said he then left the vehicle and ran with a handgun in his hand westbound down the hill behind businesses on Craig Road toward multifamily dwelling son Hidden Place and entered one of the units.
Eau Claire police said through negotiations that took about five-and-a-half-hours, the hostages were released and Albrecht was taken into custody without incident or any injuries to the victims or police officers involved. Investigators recovered a handgun and other weapons that belonged to Albrecht.
Albrecht has a criminal history that includes, but is not limited to, armed robberies, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest, burglary, and methamphetamine possession.
Eau Claire police said the neighborhood area surrounding Hidden Place is safe and residents may return to normal activity. Police want to thank the public for their cooperation staying outside the secured area while the situation was resolved.
Albrecht is being held in the Eau Claire County Jail and is expected to appear in Eau Claire County Circuit Court Friday.
"He put the public in danger and traumatized five innocent people, including three children," Eau Claire Police Chief Jerry Staniszweski said in a statement. "Thankfully the Eau Claire Police Department trains for situations like this and was ready to take action to protect the community and this family in need."
The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department, Eau Claire Fire Department, UW-Eau Claire Police Department and the City of Eau Claire Public Transit assisted Eau Claire police with this incident.