Mother hailed as a ‘true hero’ in Wisconsin shooting


MENASHA, Wisc. (WBAY) — Police say the Trestle Trail Bridge in Menasha will not open Monday following a deadly shooting Sunday that killed multiple people. The police department also says it will allow memorials to be placed in the center pavilion of Fritse Park, which was opened back up to the public Monday evening.

Menasha police say a father and his young daughter are among the victims of a shooting at the Trestle Trail Bridge. A wife and mother remains hospitalized after suffering three gunshot wounds.

The deceased victims have been identified as:

  • Jonathan Stoffel, 33, Neenah
  • Olivia Stoffel, 11, Neenah
  • Adam Bentdahl, 31, Appleton

32-year-old Erin Stoffel, the wife of Jonathan and mother of Olivia, remains in critical condition at Theda Clark in Neenah. Dr. Ray Georgen, Medical Director of Trauma at Theda Clark, says he is “hopeful for a recovery.”

The shooter is identified as Sergio Daniel Valencia del Toro, 27, Menasha. He shot himself and later died at the hospital, according to police.

Police say Valencia had a fight with his girlfriend prior to the shooting. He left his home, rode his bike to the trail and opened fire “unprovoked and at close range” according to Police Chief Tim Styka. After the shooting, Valencia turned the gun on himself.

Valencia was armed with two handguns, a revolver and a 9 mm. Both guns were recovered, police said.

Erin Stoffel is being hailed as a hero for saving her two other children during the shooting. Despite being shot three times she was able to tell her two small children to run to safety. Menasha police chief Tim Styka called her actions “absolutely amazing.”

Erin is reported to be conscious and is communicating by writing on a dry-erase board because a breathing tube is preventing her from speaking. The update on her condition was reported on a GoFundMe page setup to raise money to help the Stoffel family get through these hard times.

The site also reports that Jonathan’s last words asked for forgiveness for the shooter.

Bentdahl’s family said in a statement Monday they are saddened by his senseless death. They said he was a kind and gentle person with a bright personality. They added they’re praying for the Stoffel family as well as Valencia.

Police say the call came in about an active shooter situation a little after 7:30 p.m., prompting multiple police agencies to respond. Many officers arrived on scene within minutes.

Jonathan and Erin Stoffel/courtesy Facebook
Jonathan and Erin Stoffel/courtesy Facebook

The Trestle Trail Bridge spans Little Lake Butte des Morts and connects to Fritse Park on the Neenah side. Though the shooting is reported to have happened on the far west side of the bridge, the entire bridge falls under the City of Menasha jurisdiction. Fritse Park and Trestle Trail are closed until further notice.

Police say multiple people are reported to have witnessed the incident and are being interviewed by police.

“We saw a whole bunch of police cars coming down the road, and then we see one officer jump out of his car with the rifle, so I told my kids to go in the house because you know something’s going on when you see the rifles. Next thing you know, we did hear some gunshots,” said witness Candace Herrera.

“You see a group of people taking off back onto the bridge and the next you know you see them running back this way, the police evacuated them, that’s when you heard two faint gunshots. They weren’t that loud, but you hear ‘bang.'”

Menasha’s city council president expressed shock when speaking with Action 2 News This Morning.

“Let me speak for the citizens of Menasha. First of all our thoughts and prayers and hearts go out to these families of these victims and their friends. It’s a terrible tragedy,” said James Taylor.

“You know there are over 600,000 people that use this recreation trail throughout out the year and for something like this to happen on a recreational trail, and kind of a random shooting is … it’s just unbelievable.”

Fox Valley Christian Academy in Neenah was closed Monday because the Stoffel family children attend the school. A prayer meeting and vigil is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the church connected to the school.

Valencia was a former criminal justice student at UW-Oshkosh. The school released this statement Monday:

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh sends its heartfelt condolences to those affected by the tragic shooting in Menasha on Sunday evening.

Based on the information put out by the City of Menasha Police Department, we can confirm Sergio Valencia Del Toro, 27, was a second semester freshman at UW Oshkosh.

The UW Oshkosh Police are cooperating, as needed, with authorities investigating the incident.

Sergio Valencia del Toro/courtesy Facebook

Theda Clark Medical Center confirms that it was put under a “controlled access” lock down as a result of the incident. The hospital also reports that it is treating one victim who is listed in critical condition. The hospital went into a lock down at about 7:45 p.m..

St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton was also under a lock down for a short period of time as a precaution.

After the shooting in Menasha, there was confusion about a possible second shooting in Neenah, according to police.

Neenah police say there was a report of a possible shooting at the intersection of Main St. and Lake St., and a teenager sitting down at the intersection. There was also a social media post regarding an incident at Main St. and Church St.

Police say the confusion came from radio traffic-an officer was advising other officers of her location.

The teenager on the skateboard fell and a caller thought there was a gunshot.

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