Dan Popp Mentally Incompetent To Stand Trial, Milwaukee Killer Committed To Mental Hospital

Dan Popp has been deemed incompetent to stand trial. The 39-year-old Milwaukee man is accused of fatally shooting three neighbors during a shooting spree inside an apartment building last month.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge J.D. Watts ruled Popp incompetent after listening to testimony from a psychiatrist during a hearing on Wednesday. The mental health expert indicated that the man does not understand the charges, and does not have the ability to help in his defense.

On March 6, Dan Popp shot and killed 40-year-old Jesus Manso-Perez, 36-year-old Phia Vue, and his 32-year-old wife, Mai Vue. He has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for shooting at Manso-Perez’s teenage son.

Instead of going to trial, the judge ordered Popp be sent to a state mental health hospital and examined every 30 days for up to a year. However, he may still may end up going to trial despite his mental issues.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the psychiatrist suggested Popp could be made competent with medication, and ultimately comprehend the criminal proceedings. The judge recommended a treatment program be prescribed, even if Popp refused it.

His case will be re-reviewed at a hearing set for July 14.

Mai Vue’s brother, Tou Xiong, protested the ruling and called into question the mental status of Popp.

“We reject the state’s psychiatric evaluation saying that Dan Popp is incompetent. We will be pursuing an individual evaluation. We will fight for justice that the victims deserve. Lives were taken because of Dan Popp’s hatred of those different from him.”

According to police, two victims were part of the Hmong community, while the third has been identified as Puerto Rican. Authorities have not charged Popp with a hate crime.

According to court documents, Manso-Perez and his son, Jesus Manso-Carrasquillo, were walking downstairs to the apartment building’s basement to wash clothes when Popp first confronted them. Popp asked them where they were from and the response was “Puerto Rico.” Popp then made a comment about how they couldn’t speak English.

On the way back up the stairs, the father and son were again met with Popp, but this time pointing a gun at them. Popp said it was time for them to go and started shooting. Manso-Perez was shot, but his son managed to run down the stairs and call for help.

Before police had arrived, Popp barged into the Vues’ apartment and found the family hiding in a bedroom. At gunpoint, he took Phia Vue out of the room and fatally shot him.

Mai Vue and her two children were then brought out of the bedroom. Police later found the woman dead inside Popp’s apartment.

When officers first approached the apartment building, a single shot was heard from the building. Taking precaution, officers remained outside.

Shortly thereafter, Popp came out the front door with a rifle. Police ordered him to drop the weapon, but he refused, stating only that he was heading for a nearby police car.

Officers continued to shout orders and Popp eventually complied by allowing the gun to fall and laying down on the ground. Officers were then able to take him into custody.

It was then police came across the grisly scene inside. All three victims received fatal gunshot wounds to the head. Jesus Manso-Carrasquillo, as well as a babysitter for the Vue family, were able to positively identify Popp as the shooter.

Some are calling for the rampage to be investigated as a hate crime, despite the ruling of Popp’s mental capacity.

“From the beginning of this case people were rushing to say, ‘Oh, this was a mental illness issue,’ ” said Darryl Morin of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “Every expert we’ve spoken to on the issue of hate crimes has said there’s always been some degree of mental illness involved.”

Morin has sent a request to the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the case. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said the option of charging Dan Popp with a hate crime is still on the table.

[Photo by Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office/AP Photo]