“Looked like Baghdad:” O’Reilly store at Fond du Lac & Burleigh a total loss after protesters set fire to it

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE -- The O'Reilly Auto Parts store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh was one of several businesses set on fire Saturday night, August 13th and Sunday morning, August 14th in the wake of a fatal officer-involved shooting near 44th and Auer Saturday afternoon.

As a new day began on Sunday, we were able to get a glimpse of the extent of the damage at O'Reilly Auto Parts, as volunteers worked to clean it up.

"This is real. This is very real," Brandon Westmoreland said.

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

As the sun rose Sunday, those who live in the area came to see the aftermath. On Saturday night and into early Sunday, angry crowds took to the streets to protest the shooting death of an armed man by a police officer hours earlier.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn on Sunday identified the man shot and killed near 44th and Auer Saturday as 23-year-old Sylville Smith.

O'Reilly Auto Parts set on fire

O'Reilly Auto Parts set on fire

Protesters burned six stores, including the O'Reilly store, the BP gas station near Sherman and Burleigh, Jet Beauty near 35th and Fond du Lac, BMO Harris Bank at 36th and Fond du Lac and MJM Liquor at Fond du Lac and North and a second liquor store near 21st and Hopkins.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Sunday afternoon 17 arrests were made overnight. All of those arrested have prior records with MPD.

Four officers were hurt. Three were struck by concrete and one was struck by flying glass. All had been treated and released by Sunday afternoon.

Seven squad cars were damaged. Eight rounds of gunfire struck a "Bearcat" vehicle being utilized by law enforcement.

Shot Spotter "shots fired" technology was activated 48 times overnight. Police said a 16-year-old girl was struck by stray gunfire near 43rd and Burleigh.

Despite all the violence, Flynn and Barrett said there were no use of force incidents by police during the unrest.

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

This all started Saturday afternoon when two officers stopped two people who were in a car in the north side, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.

“I was advised it was a suspicious stop. This vehicle was behaving in a suspicious manner. It’s a rental car as it turns out. We’ve not ascertained its status as to whether or not it was lawfully rented or stolen,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said Sunday afternoon.

Shortly after, both car occupants fled on foot as officers pursued them, police said.

During the chase, an officer shot one of the two -- 23-year-old Smith -- who was armed with a handgun, according to authorities.

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

"He (officer) ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. "He had the gun with him and the officer fired several times."

Sylville Smith

Sylville Smith

Smith died at the scene. It's unclear whether the second occupant of the car is in police custody.

Smith was shot twice -- in the arm and chest, the mayor said. His handgun was stolen during a burglary in Waukesha in March, according to police.

"The victim of that burglary reported 500 rounds of ammunition were also stolen with the handgun," police said in a statement.

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

Cleanup at O'Reilly store near Fond du Lac and Burleigh

The officer, 24, was assigned to District 7 and has six years of service with the Milwaukee Police Department -- three of those as an officer.

He was not injured and will be placed on administrative duty during the investigation and subsequent review by the district attorney's office.

Chief Flynn said Sunday the officer is African-American -- and there are concerns for his safety. He has not been identified.

At the time of the shooting, the officer was wearing a body camera. The body camera video from this incident is not being released at this point.

“A young man lost his life (Saturday) afternoon. No matter what, his family has to be hurting. There was a body camera the officer was wearing. The video will be under the jurisdiction of the state of Wisconsin. I have seen a still photo extracted from that video. That photo demonstrates, without question, that (Smith) had a gun in his hand. The police officer didn’t know it at the time, but there were 23 rounds in that gun. He had more bullets in his gun than the police officer had in his gun. What that police officer encountered was an individual who had a gun in his hand,” Barrett said.

“We’re going to have to weigh a couple different things. We have to weigh the public’s benefit. We have to weigh the rights of the officer involved. We have to weigh the concern that DCI has to have an investigation. I suppose there are people that would say we might have to protect a potential jury pool someday, I don’t know,” Flynn said.

By state law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will lead the investigation.

"For what reason is all of this going on, you know? You get speechless and your heart breaks," Westmoreland said.

One man didn't want to share his name, but said he saw the unrest overnight Saturday and into Sunday.

"I seen all these kids with masks over their face. Looked like Baghdad. You're going to war? For what?" the man said.

By Sunday morning at the O'Reilly Auto Parts store, the roof had collapsed. Everything inside was charred. The building was deemed a total loss.

"I live in this city. I was born in this city. I love this city," Pastor J. Cunningham said.

Still in his church attire Sunday, Cunningham and other volunteers helped clean up the debris. He said he understand the anger and frustration from residents in the community -- but not the result.

"This is not how you express anger. There's a healthy way to express it -- and this isn't it," Cunningham said.

"It's the result of two sides that's against each other. you know what I mean? When you got two people warring, this is what happens. Simple as that," Westmoreland said.

While the O'Reilly store may be a total loss after this fire, many prayed and hoped that this damage would be the worst they'd see.

"This is not a demonstration. This is chaos," Cunningham said.

"What happens from here now? I don't really know if it gets worse or better," Westmoreland said.

Jet Beauty

Firefighters on Sunday morning returned to the scene of the fire at Jet Beauty near 35th and Fond du Lac after it appeared to have reignited. Firefighters were seen putting out hot spots, and the Department of Public Works was called in to board up the building.

6 comments

  • confused

    Wearing masks to cover your face and waiting until the dead of night to act like you did. Cowards. Afraid to show your face because your know your mamma’d whup you good? Afraid to show your face because you are already wanted? Afraid to show your face because you’d embarrass the very leaders of your church and community who help you and give you free things? If you are going to commit arson, loot and riot show the world who you are. Go out in the daytime with no mask or face rag. I’m betting it’s mamma you are most afraid of. She should whup your backside good. And turn you in. anyone harboring those involved should be charged.

  • know thanx

    So let me get this straight. A black officer shoots an armed suspect, so “protesters” burn down their own neighborhood. Seriously? I’m pretty sure this isn’t the way to address racism in the police dept.

  • I support the Badge

    For someone thats been to Baghdad. I can assure you this was calm. The media makes me sick sometimes

  • William George

    The Pastor J. Cunningham’s are loosing their credibility. They are apologists for a failed capitalist banker run system, trying to make work what cannot work. I say to the Cunningham’s wake up, educate yourselves, the know-how and knowledge are here to solve our problems. And, it ain’t ‪#‎Jesus‬ nor The ‪#‎ProtestantWorkEthic‬.
    ‪#‎occupytheneedact‬ The legislation is written: HR2990 of the 112th Congress. ‪#‎GoGreen‬ ‪#‎JillStein‬ ‪#‎November8‬

Comments are closed.