In Memoriam



On October 29, 2004, Agent John “Jay” Balchunas was working in his capacity as a Special Agent supporting an FBI operation when he stopped at a gas station on West Villard Avenue in Milwaukee for a cup of coffee shortly after midnight. As he walked back to his car, he was confronted by two suspects who announced a robbery and pointed a gun at him. One of the suspects began to pat down Jay’s clothing and discovered his duty weapon. The other suspect then fired two rounds, striking him in the liver.  As the suspects fled the scene, Jay was able to reach his police radio and summon assistance.  He was transported to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, but succumbed to his wounds on November 5, 2004, despite the tireless efforts of medical staff.


The two suspects were apprehended several days after Jay’s death. They were both charged with murder. The shooter was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, but the conviction was later overturned on a mistrial. He was found guilty of first-degree reckless homicide in a second trial. The accomplice was convicted of felony murder.  Both remain incarcerated.


At the time of this incident, Jay had been employed as a narcotics agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) for five years.  He was assigned to the Milwaukee HIDTA Heroin Initiative as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force Officer. 


Jay previously served as a police officer with the Milwaukee Police Department and as a Public Safety Officer for Marquette University.  Jay was also a volunteer Firefighter Lieutenant with the New Berlin Fire Department at the time of his death. He is still mourned and deeply missed by his family, friends and co-workers.


Jay Balchunas was a loyal and dedicated public servant who loved his job.  The fact he had volunteered to work a special detail the night he was shot was just one example of how Jay routinely took that extra step to help others in need.  So that all may remember his sacrifice, his photograph and remembrance plaques hang on walls within DCI and other law enforcement offices, and rooms within these same buildings have been dedicated to his memory.  The Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation continues to humbly remember the life and service of Special Agent Jay Balchunas.  Forever our friend and brother in law enforcement, Jay is gone but never forgotten.