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Brief Skirmish Led To Death Says Police Chief


A brief skirmish in a downtown Rhinelander bar led to the death of a man early New Year's day, another man being injured with a third man involved.

Police Chief Michael Steffes says the person who died at Sackett's Bar on Brown Street was 48 year old James R. Tanner. The injured man was 62 year old John Klucarich. Both are from Rhinelander.

Steffes says Tanner and Klucarich were having a conversation when witnesses say Tanner threw a punch...


"....that punch did land, striking him in the face. That dropped Mr. Klucarich backward and onto the ground. While falling to the ground he did sustain injuries to his head..."

At that point....Steffes says....a third man, 59 year old Gregory Dryden, also from Rhinelander, intervened. Dryden was working as a karaoke DJ. Steffes says Dryden approached Tanner....


"....he took hold of Mr. Tanner and drove him forward into the bar area. Once he hit the bar area there were some glasses and beer bottles on the bar area. Those fell off, hitting and smashing on the ground, He then took and directed Mr. Tanner to the ground..."

Credit WXPR
Police Chief Michael Steffes talking to the media.

When emergency personnel arrived, Tanner was placed in an ambulance, where he died while it was parked at the curb. Klucarich was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. Steffes says no other people were involved in the incident. He says Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek was on the scene that night...

"....from that point there has been no discussion on what charges will be filed, or could be filed. At this point what (Rhinelander PD) will be doing is compiling all the witness information, getting all our investigation completed. We'll refer the reports over to the District Attorney's office and will allow him to make a charging disposition...."

An autopsy was conducted on Tanner through the Oneida County Medical Examiner's office. Results are expected to be released through the Rhinelander police department. Steffes asked if anyone has anymore information to contact Rhinelander police.

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