Christopher O’Kroley told police after his arrest Wednesday that he would have shot Caroline Nosal to death one night earlier, except for one thing: He realized he had never fired the gun he bought on Monday and wanted to practice with it.
By the time he had practiced firing and returned to Metro Market, 6010 Cottage Grove Road, where O’Kroley and Nosal had worked together, he told police, Nosal had already left work and gone home. O’Kroley went home, ordered pizza, and watched movies, according to a criminal complaint.
O’Kroley, 26, of Madison, was charged Friday with first-degree intentional homicide after he allegedly returned to the Metro Market on Tuesday night and shot Nosal, 24, of Stoughton, in the head and abdomen after she left work for the night.
O’Kroley was also charged with first-degree reckless endangerment for allegedly shooting at Madison Police Officer Michele Walker, as she tried to arrest O’Kroley near East Towne Mall on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint filed Friday, O’Kroley told police he bought the gun he used to shoot Nosal after Metro Market fired him by phone on Monday afternoon, and he had intended to use it that night.
O’Kroley had worked there with Nosal, and co-workers described a relationship between the two that soured after O’Kroley “wanted more,” according to the complaint. Two weeks before the shooting, Nosal had complained to store management that she was being harassed by O’Kroley, who was then suspended.
After he was suspended, O’Kroley told police, he began planning to kill Nosal and himself if he was also fired.
Then on Monday, he was fired.
On Friday, O’Kroley appeared in court, where bail was set at $1 million. He was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair and wore a suicide prevention smock.
A former girlfriend told the Wisconsin State Journal that O’Kroley had tried to commit suicide in 2014, and that he has been seriously mentally ill for the past decade.
According to the complaint:
O’Kroley learned from text messages that he exchanged with former co-workers — on the pretext of going to collect belongings when Nosal was not at the store — that she finished work at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
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He told police that he knelt down beside her car with the gun in his hand. When he saw Nosal turn the corner, he stood up, pointed the gun at her and shot her in the chest. When she fell, he told police, he shot her once more in the head.
He told police that it was “easy” to kill Nosal, and that he killed her out of anger because she had “ruined my life.” He also described himself to police as a “sociopath.”
After the shooting, O’Kroley wrote in a text message to one co-worker, “I killed Caroline and I’m about to kill myself. So don’t be surprised when I don’t respond anymore.”
After the shooting, he told police, he realized he couldn’t kill himself, so his plan was to “hijack someone’s car at gunpoint.”
A tip alerting police that O’Kroley had been spotted in the East Towne area brought Officer Walker to the area, and O’Kroley said he was surprised by her and admitted to firing his gun twice at her.
“I’m glad I didn’t hit her,” he said. “I don’t know what else, I guess I’m sorry but ... I don’t know if I am sorry, I’m just glad I didn’t hit her.”
About O’Kroley’s gun, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said, “We believe that he purchased the firearm locally and legally at a store; however, that part of the investigation is still ongoing.”
Last year, the state Legislature eliminated a 48-hour waiting period to buy a handgun, a measure that was opposed by most Democratic legislators.
State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, recently introduced a bill to reinstate the waiting period, citing as examples a suicide that was carried out without having to wait for a gun, and a homicide elsewhere in Wisconsin, also carried out with a newly purchased gun.
“These are two examples of what the waiting period was designed to prevent,” Taylor said. Nosal’s death, she said, “does illustrate that we need a cooling-off period.”
While it’s not certain that a waiting period would have avoided tragedy in this case, Taylor said, “anything we can do that makes a difference in avoiding homicides, we must do.”