Residents Look for Answers After Apartment Explosion in Rice Lake

A Rice Lake man was killed when he set off an explosion inside his apartment.

RICE LAKE, Wis.- A Rice Lake man is dead after police say he followed through on his threat to blow up an explosive device in his apartment.

Authorities received a 911 call late Sunday night from 44-year-old Joseph Zunker. He told police that he had a bomb and would blow up his apartment building.

Police acted within minutes and saved the lives of the fourteen of those living in the apartment building.

Residents like Kevin Griffin can’t believe what they saw and heard in their community.

“He made a threat that he had a bomb and we needed to clear the building. He was throwing stuff out of his apartment and we all just kind of blew him off because he was just kind of weird like that.” said Griffin.

Fellow tenants said that Zunker, a registered sex offender, kept to himself but his actions shook the entire community.

“I’m numb, man. Everything me and her have worked for is gone. All because of one person’s greedy act. Now we’ve got to start all over. We’ve got nowhere to live,” said Griffin.

Officers evacuated the building quickly.

“Undoubtedly, our officers saved multiple lives by acting quickly,” said Rice Lake Police Chief Steve Roux.

Officers saw Zunker light something on fire in the building and then the explosion ripped through the building. It left flames and questions that have no burning answers.

“We always want to know why someone would do something like this because it does put not only themselves but the public at risk,” said Roux.

One officer and one resident sustained minor injuries from the explosion. The building is a complete loss. The Red Cross is assisting those who lost their homes in the blast. Some of them did not have renters insurance and some have pets that are unaccounted for or lost in the fire.

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