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Man returns to Wisconsin Capitol with assault rifle and asks to see Gov. Tony Evers, hours after being arrested for bringing gun inside

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks to the press during a canvas launch event on November 7, 2022, in Milwaukee. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(CNN) — A man who was arrested Wednesday after bringing a handgun to the Wisconsin Capitol and saying he wanted to see Gov. Tony Evers returned with an assault rifle later that night after posting bail, according to the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

The man was shirtless and had a holstered handgun and a leashed dog when he approached the security desk outside the governor’s office in Madison around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Department of Administration spokesperson Tatyana Warrick said in a statement to CNN.

He said he would not leave until he saw the governor, a Democrat.

The man was taken into custody without incident by a Capitol police officer and taken to the Dane County Jail for openly carrying a firearm in the Capitol, which is illegal, the statement said. The gun was seized as evidence, and the dog was turned over to the City of Madison Animal Control.

The man later bailed himself out of jail, the statement said, and he returned to the outside of the Capitol around 9 p.m. – this time with a loaded AK-47 style rifle. Again, he asked to see the governor.

“Capitol Police and City of Madison Police Department officers began a dialogue with the person,” the statement said. “A consent search of his backpack was conducted and revealed a collapsible police-style baton, which is illegal as the man did not have a valid concealed carry permit.”

Officers took the man into custody shortly before midnight for psychiatric evaluation based on a “concerning statement” and the rifle was seized by Capitol Police, according to the statement.

Britt Cudaback, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, declined to comment, saying it was the office’s policy to not comment on matters of the governor’s security.

Evers, however, told reporters Thursday he was doing OK, crediting the various police departments for their work.

“Yeah, it’s always something that … you don’t want to see happen,” he said. “But that’s why we have good people in the police departments, in the Capitol police and the state patrol. They’re doing their great work.”

Asked if the Capitol’s security policies would be enhanced, the governor said, “I’m sure they’re looking at that as we speak,” though he also declined to discuss security matters in detail.

Officials have not yet detailed the nature of the man’s comments Wednesday and whether they were violent. But Evers, like a number of public officials in recent years, has previously been the subject of violent threats.

In June, a Wisconsin man was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to transmitting in interstate commerce a threatening communication, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin. The man was specifically accused of writing threatening emails and Facebook posts about the governor, the complaint against him said.

Separately, a man who authorities said fatally shot a Wisconsin judge last year had also considered Evers and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as targets, according to a source familiar with the investigation. The name of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – who was herself the subject of a kidnapping plot – was also on the list of targets, her office said at the time.

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