Man found living in bunker stocked with weapons

Data pix.

Geoffrey Graff

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — A man was found living in an underground shelter stocked with weapons and ammunition along the Milwaukee River Greenway, a short distance away from shops, schools and restaurants, according to sheriff's officials.

Geoffrey Graff, 41, is charged with second degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon; and possession of a short barreled shotgun after officers uncovered two underground shelters near Estabrook Park.

Inside those shelters, officials say they found a stash of firearms and ammunition.

Authorities found the bunkers Graff is accused of maintaining Wednesday morning after multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a report of shots fired in the area near E. Capitol Drive and the Estabrook Park (near Capitol and Humboldt).

The Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office on Friday identified the man they arrested at the bunkers as Graff. Inside the bunker, the criminal complaint says authorities found the following:

  • Single barrel, short-barrel shotgun
  • 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the "lock back position"
  • .22 caliber Marlin rifle
  • Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun
  • Numerous rounds of ammunition
  • Several shotgun stocks and barrels
  • Rifle scope
  • Archery bow and six arrows
  • Three knives

Shelter uncovered near Estabrook Park

The complaint says a detective interviewed Graff who stated that when he was being handcuffed by the police, he "could've cleared [the police] pretty easily if I wanted to" -- in reference to his ability to shoot the officers. The complaint says Graff "refused to provide information to (the detective) about the whereabouts of an SKS rifle, stating that he would only do so depending on when he would be released from custody because 'we wouldn't want that slipping in the wrong hands.'"

Graff told authorities "he has been using the structure for seven to ten years," the complaint says -- and that "he knew he was going to catch a felony charge." Graff also stated, "the UWM police should have shut down the street if they knew there were gunshots because 'one of those innocent college kids' coming in and out through there could have been shot." Graff also admitted "they could stop looking for the shooter because it was him," the complaint says.

During a news conference on Friday, Nov. 22, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said when officers initially found the bunker, Graff immediately incriminated himself on Wednesday morning by saying he had fired the shots into the river because he was frustrated that his dogs ran away.

Shelter uncovered near Estabrook Park

Lucas says the bunker was 8 feet deep, 8 feet wide and 20 feet long.

"Additionally, the encampment has a few items of sustenance, such as a grill, propane tanks, a generator and also had numerous power tools and hand tools inside," said Lucas.

Investigators made the discovery on land owned by Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). The shelters were found near MATC's transmitter.

Court records show Graff has been in the criminal justice system for years. In 2009, he was cited for causing a disturbance by riding down the street on a bicycle with eight German shepherd dogs running alongside him. In 2012, he was accused of getting into a scuffle with officers trying to detain him.

"Thus far we have not been able to find any ideological or political motive for the individual's alleged conduct. Nor do we feel that there is any further or ongoing threat to public safety tied to this individual in custody, "said Lucas. "One would wonder how in an urban setting, an individual was able to hide in plain sight, if you will."

MATC officials said debris has been cleared. The shelter has been capped and some additional work will take place in the near future. They do not have a cost estimate for the cleanup at this time.

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