Former employee of BP gas station in Sherman Park, accused of firing shots in July, ordered to pay $250 fine

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — 35-year-old Bhupinder Sidhu of Milwaukee, a former employee at the BP gas station that once stood in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood has reached a plea deal — accused of firing shots at the station in July. It happened less than a month before the gas station burned during unrest following the officer-involved shooting death of Sylville Smith in August.

Bhupinder Sidhu on Monday, March 6th pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, use of a dangerous weapon.

Sidhu was then sentenced — ordered to pay a $250 fine by April 5th.

A criminal complaint filed against Sidhu in this case indicates officers were dispatched to the gas station for a shots fired call on July 19th.

BP gas station at Sherman & Burleigh

BP gas station at Sherman & Burleigh

Police learned shots had been fired by a gas station employee.

According to the complaint, Sidhu told investigators shortly after Sherman Park closed at 10:00 p.m. on July 19th, a large group of juveniles came to the store.

An employee attempted to close the entrance to the store — but couldn’t because someone was holding the door open.

Sidhu claimed he feared for his safety and his employee’s safety — so he took his loaded Smith & Wesson M&P .40 caliber shield handgun from behind the counter and exited the store.

He said he then pointed the handgun in the air, and fired two rounds “in order to try to get people to leave the store.”

Investigators reviewed surveillance video, which shows Sidhu exiting the store while holding what appears to be a handgun. Sidhu can then be seen raising the gun in the air — and the crowd can be seen scattering.

Sidhu and two others are then seen following the crowd until everyone left the area near the gas station.

The incident led to protests and a call to boycott the gas station.

Protest at BP gas station near Sherman and Burleigh

Protest at BP gas station near Sherman and Burleigh

Protest at BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh“There’s no reason for a kid to be getting shot at,” a protester said.

“I’m not saying their behavior was acceptable, but shooting at them is never acceptable,” a protester said.

Protesters said a group of 40-50 young people were gathered in the gas station’s parking lot on July 19th when gas station employees tried to close the doors.

Protest at BP gas station near Sherman Park

Protest at BP gas station near Sherman Park

Frank Nitty

Frank Nitty

“I just heard two gunshots. I thought somebody got killed,” a protester said.

“You just came out and shot your gun off over the heads of kids,” said Frank Nitty, who organized the protest.

Nitty was there on July 19th, and said he confronted the gas station employee who fired the shots. He created live reports on Facebook — promoting the boycott.

Protest at gas station near Sherman and Burleigh

Protest at gas station near Sherman and Burleigh

“I keep hearing these are bad kids. If they’re bad then come to where these bad kids are and help them,” said Nitty.

Amid the protest, the gas station’s owner lowered the price of gas to $1.99 per gallon in an effort to bring customers to his store.

BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh

BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh

The move drew a line of cars to the gas station — but those looking to fill their tanks with cheap gas had to deal with taunts from protesters.

“If somebody believes that property is worth more than life, that`s not somebody you should spend your money with. That tells me you care about my dollar and not my life,” Vaun Mayes Bey said.

Rochelle Wallace was one of those who stopped at the gas station to fill up her tank. She said she wasn’t intimidated by the protesters.

Protest at BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh

Protest at BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh

“I mean, I understand the point, but let`s make sense. At what point do you take responsibility for your kids and at what point do you say — stop tearing up the gas station. Be respectful to the gas attendant. We need to shop here. This is your community,” Wallace said.

By week’s end, the owner of the station and the protesters had a meeting of the minds — agreeing to talk. Then over that weekend, a block party was held to bring the two sides together once again.

A few weeks prior to this shots fired incident, on June 29th, windows were broken at the nearby BP gas station, which had to close due to safety concerns after a group of teens caused a disturbance at the nearby Sherman Park.

BP gas station near Sherman Park

BP gas station near Sherman Park

BP gas station near Sherman Park

BP gas station near Sherman Park

Eventually, the BP gas station would burn on the night of August 13th — during unrest after the fatal officer-involved shooting of Sylville Smith. The owner of the former BP gas station has made plans to rebuild in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood — where his gas station once stood. The goal is to reopen by fall.

Meanwhile, police have made progress in their search for the arsonist(s) who set fire to the gas station in August.

According to an affidavit filed in late February, Milwaukee police arson investigators said they are asking to obtain Facebook records in their investigation into “several unknown black male and black female actors involved in looting the business and burning it down causing over $1 million in damages.”

The affidavit says a few days after the gas station burned, a witness went to police with Facebook posts of someone claiming responsibility for the BP arson. On March 2nd, police said the investigation is ongoing, but so far, there has not been an arrest.

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