Man tries to stop armed robbery, charged with felony

La Crosse man is being charged with a felony after he tried stopping an armed robbery at a local bar.

Early Monday morning, Jeff Steele was at King’s Korner, a bar on 8th Street South in La Crosse. It was just about closing time when a woman walked in, pointed a gun at the bartender and demanded all the money in the register.

Steele tried to stop the woman and now he’s the one in trouble.

“I didn’t think I did anything wrong by any means,” Steele said.

Steele has lived in the neighborhood surrounding King’s Korner bar for about 40 years.

“It’s not really the nicest neighborhood we live in,” Steele said.

Which is why Steele carries a Taser, which he used early Monday morning.

“I was in the cooler right over here and when I stood up she was standing in the middle of the bar with a small handgun pointed at me,” said Colleen Hogan, the bartender at King’s Korner the night of the armed robbery.

“I (saw) Colleen having to pull money out of the till, I looked over, and (saw) the mask and somebody with a gun,” Steele said.

Heidi Thompson, 24, was the women underneath the mask.

“She said, ‘OK guys put your hands on your head and give me all the money, all the 20s,'” Hogan said.

Hogan says when she turned around with money from the register she saw Steele walking toward Thompson with his Taser.

“I don’t think he made contact because I could see it sparking, but he definitely startled (Thompson),” Hogan said.

Thompson ran from the bar and was arrested minutes later by La Crosse Police. But she isn’t the only one facing charges following the incident.

Steele is being charged with possession of an electronic weapon, which is a felony, because he doesn’t have a concealed carry permit for his Taser.

“You can have it in your home and on your private property without a concealed carry permit, but you do need to keep a concealed carry permit to carry it out in public,” said Officer Lisa Barrix, with the La Crosse Police Department.

“When I bought it off the Internet it said basically that it’s legal to have in the state of Wisconsin, but didn’t go into any depth on it, so I assumed that it was legal to carry around, otherwise why would you buy one to leave it at home? How is it for defense then?” Steele said.

Barrix says because Steele tried help he wasn’t immediately taken to jail.

Steele is currently on a signature bond.

It is now up to the district attorney’s office to decide whether to pursue the felony charge or not.

Thompson is being held on a $10,000 cash bond. She is facing charges of armed robbery and disorderly conduct.

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