Mass shooting in downtown Milwaukee, mayor imposes curfew on Saturday
Mayor Cavalier Johnson on Saturday afternoon imposed a curfew on the downtown entertainment district on Saturday and Sunday night after at least 21 people were shot in separate incidents Friday night.
The curfew will run from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. for those under 21. The area will include portions of downtown bordered by Knapp/ and State streets, Vel Phillips Avenue and Broadway.
There were three separate shootings in Milwaukee’s downtown bar district after the Milwaukee Bucks playoff gamewho attracted thousands of people in the Deer District. One of the shootings, which occurred shortly after 11 p.m., injured 17 people. Five of those injured were armed and taken into custody, police said on Saturday.
The victims ranged in age from 15 to 47 and all are expected to survive, Milwaukee police said. Ten people, ranging from minors to adults, were arrested and nine firearms were recovered.
Authorities have not released further information about the victims, the ages of the suspects and what they believe led to the shooting.
The mass shooting took place shortly after 11 p.m. Friday on North Water Street near Highland Avenue – just two hours after and a few blocks from an earlier shooting. which injured three people, including a 16-year-old girl.
In that shooting, police arrested a 19-year-old man and said two other men, ages 29 and 26, were injured near the corner of North Martin Luther King Drive and Highland Avenue.
The gunshots sent hundreds of fans running through the Deer district, where 11,000 people were gathered to watch Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals playoff series between the Bucks and the Boston Celtics.
Shortly after this shooting, at around 10:30 p.m., a 20-year-old man was shot and wounded on North Water Street near West Highland Avenue. Police said Saturday the shooting did not appear to be related to this latest shooting in the same area.
The Deer District has drawn thousands downtown over the past year to cheer on the Bucks. The area was considered by many to be a unifying space in a city with a reputation for separate spaces.
Friday night after the game, the streets were packed with people for what felt like the first summer night in the city.
Thousands swarmed the Fiserv Forum, Deer District and surrounding bars, with the large crowds taking to the streets in what was almost an early festival atmosphere that overflowed with control – with music, clouds smoke and people stopping traffic for impromptu dance parties.
Then gunshots made people run. A Sentinel Journal reporter who left the arena around 11:30 p.m. heard sirens in all directions from dozens of police and ambulance squads and saw drivers running red lights, speeding, swerving, yelling at pedestrians and at least one driver going the wrong way on a street.
The violence has hit an entertainment district that has been battered by two years of the pandemic and other high-profile incidents of gun violence, including two homicides earlier this year.
Last month, Shannon Freeman, a 30-year-old father and beloved chef, was shot and killed at The Loaded Slate bar. Prosecutors say a 24-year-old man shot him 11 times and continued to do so even after he fell to the ground, after what appeared to be minimal interaction between the two inside the bar.
In February, Krystal N.Tucker, 31, was killed and two others injured in a shooting at the popular Brownstone Social Lounge, where Tucker worked. Authorities say the the shooter was denied access at the bar due to his age restrictions, and after being escorted out, pulled out a gun and opened fire.
‘Bullets were sprayed everywhere’: Witnesses describe chaos in Deer district
On Saturday morning, North Water Street was littered with rubbish, blood spatter and evidence that people had quickly fled the area.
A few police officers from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and two workers from Milwaukee Downtown, the business improvement district, were picking up trash and debris.
Shattered glass, empty liquor bottles, plain shoes, hair combs and medical gauze wrappers littered the streets and blood strewn the sidewalks. Two bloody shirts had been left behind and a trail of blood on a sidewalk stretched the length of two establishments: Elwood’s Liquor and Tap to the old Water Street Brewery.
Michael Tulsky, an MSOE student was inside his apartment at the intersection of East Juneau Avenue and North Water Street, when he heard gunshots near Duke’s on Water.
Within five minutes, he heard more gunshots near McGillicuddy and Elwood.
“Bullets were sprayed everywhere,” Tulsky said.
Tulsky watched from his window overlooking the intersection as crowds fled the area. “People separated like the Red Sea,” he said. “Everyone got out of here as fast as they could.”
Tulsky also saw a vehicle nearly hit a police officer who was crossing the street towards the scene of the shooting.
Tulsky said he plans to stay indoors for the Bucks’ next game, away from his windows. A bullet hit the window of his friend’s apartment next door, he said.
Another witness, Timothy Seymour, was inside Trinity Three Irish pubs at East Juneau Avenue and North Edison Street when he looked out the window and saw people running outside.
He was initially unsure what had happened, but a second shot about 15 minutes later made him realize there had been two shots, he said.
The bar staff lured everyone to Trinity’s patio inside, where Seymour and his friends, and everyone waited in the bar until about 11:30 p.m. when the staff dismissed everyone at home.
“As a city, we should do better. It’s not even sports related at the time. More so someone creating havoc,” Seymor said.
Seymour, a Third Ward resident, has lived in Milwaukee his entire life and said he’s never seen gun violence at this level before.
“When the city’s eyes are on it, like it is with the Bucks in the playoffs and all, it’s a little sadder than anything,” he said.
‘Everybody’s got a gun’: Alderman draws connection to last summer’s violence
Last summer, violence in the Water Street area – including reckless driving, fighting and shootings – drew attention and promises from public officials to ensure the neighborhood was safe.
Police sworn to maintain a “constant presence” in the area on weekend nights and Bucks home game nights. At the time, a bar owner told elected officials that ‘the anarchy that has taken hold of our street is nothing short of shocking and terrifying’.
In an interview Saturday morning, Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman, who represents much of downtown, said he’s heard from condo associations over the past two months raising concerns about last summer’s violence downtown.
“I told them very frankly, based on the current conditions, I don’t know why the violence of last summer wouldn’t happen again,” Bauman said. “I mean, you have the same dynamic.”
“The police told me this last year and I suspect it’s still true – everyone has a gun,” he added. “They are overwhelmed, by far.”
He also expressed concern about downtown “tailgating”, which he described as “non-bar customers who just sit in or around their vehicles – drink, smoke and play music – and they are armed”.
“With everything happening again, there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen. Because all the same conditions exist for it to happen – guns, lawless behavior, hot weather with the effect magnetic of a Bucks game,” Bauman said. “You almost have to pray for cold and rain.”
The alderman said he was told that the police plan to recruit staff and have a large presence downtown, but Bauman calls for discussions on security perimeters around entertainment districts, controls weapons and the removal of on-street parking in the area.
“They’re going to have to consider removing all street parking within blocks to prevent tailgating from taking place,” he said.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and Council Speaker Jose G. Pérez could not immediately be reached for interviews Saturday morning. Johnson is expected to speak to reporters later on Saturday.
Some residents are already pushing Johnson to do more. Tom and Deb Russo, who were walking their dachshund early Saturday morning along Water Street, said the shooting was “terrible” and “outrageous”.
They said that if gun violence is not reduced soon, people will not want to spend time and money downtown and businesses may leave the area.
“The mayor seems to be talking tough about it, but we don’t see anything happening at the moment, but he’s only been in office for a month, what?” said Tom Russo. “He says it’s his number one priority, and it should be his number one priority.”
A few years ago, the couple moved to a Third Ward condo after raising their children in an Illinois suburb. They wanted to live in a “small urban town”, Deb Russo said.
“We didn’t know what was in store,” she said.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Milwaukee Police at (414) 935-7360 or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at (414) 224-Tips or P3 Tips App.