MADISON, Wis. — A rural Wisconsin man blasted his television set with a shotgun after watching Bristol Palin’s “Dancing with the Stars” routine Monday night, saying he was fed up with politics and Palin wasn’t a very good dancer, according to court documents.
Steven Cowan, 67, of the town of Vermont, about 15 miles west of Madison, then pointed the gun at his wife, 66-year-old Janice Cowan, who escaped and called police, authorities said. A SWAT team surrounded the couple’s farmhouse, and officers were able to talk Cowan out Tuesday morning after an all-night standoff.
Cowan had been drinking before he sat down to watch “Dancing with the Stars” and suffers from bipolar disorder, his wife told officers. He was charged Tuesday with second-degree reckless endangerment, and could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Bail was set at $1,500 for Cowan at his initial court appearance Wednesday in Madison. State Public Defender Jonas Bednarek, who represented Cowan, declined to comment. Cowan’s preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 6.
Dane County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said Cowan works as a landlord, but that she didn’t know where he owned property. He has a clean criminal record, she said.
“It’s kind of sad, actually,” Schaffer said.
Janice Cowan told police her husband came home around 6:30 p.m. Monday after drinking at a bar, but that she didn’t know if he was drunk, a sheriff’s detective wrote in a criminal complaint.
She said her husband drank a bottle of beer during dinner and they settled down to watch “Dancing with the Stars.”
When Palin, the daughter of former vice presidential candidate-turned-GOP celebrity Sarah Palin, began her routine, Cowan jumped up and began swearing, saying something like “The (expletive) politics.” His wife said he was upset that a political figure’s daughter was dancing on TV even though he felt she didn’t have talent.
She told officers her husband left the living room and reappeared 20 minutes later with his shotgun, “raging” with his face bright red, and blasted the TV.
“He scared the bejebees out of me,” Janice Cowan told police.
She said her husband pointed the gun at her and told her to go get his pistols. She said he threatened to kill himself if she returned with anyone else.
She left the home and called police from a nearby lawyer’s office, according to the complaint.
The criminal complaint said Steven Cowan’s daughter recently took away his handguns for safekeeping. It did not elaborate.
Cowan was ordered Wednesday by Dane County Circuit Court Commissioner Todd Meurer not to have any firearms in his residence, consume alcohol or contact his wife in person should he post bail.
Janice Cowan told officers that about 15 years ago her husband had threatened her with a machete when he couldn’t find some ammunition and has threatened to shoot one of their cows.
She added he was under stress because of financial reasons, saying a doctor helping him with his mental health problems had suggested he temporarily turn over control of his rental properties to the family’s attorney. Calls Wednesday morning to a number listed as the Cowans’ could not be connected.
The Internet has been abuzz in recent days about how Bristol Palin, who has consistently landed at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard, has been able to remain on the ABC show. Some have suggested that voters — particularly supporters of her mother — have been voting in blocs and manipulating the system.
Both Palins have denied any organized vote-getting tactics. Bristol Palin, 20, says voters support her despite lackluster performances because she started the show with no dancing experience.
Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison contributed to this report.