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Kidnapping victim set on fire and shot, attempted homicide, home invasion: 4 charged after 3 crimes in 3 months

MILWAUKEE -- Four people are facing multiple felony charges after three alleged crimes in three months. Two are charged in connection with the kidnapping of a man who was set on fire and shot, and in connection with the attempted fatal shooting of a homicide witness. Three are charged in connection with a violent home invasion/armed robbery. All of these alleged crimes happened between September and November of 2016. We should note, one of the suspects in this case is already charged in connection with two homicides that happened within six days in 2016. At least two of these suspects are alleged gang members.

Deonta Ames

27-year-old Deonta Ames of Milwaukee faces eight felonies:

  • Attempted first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime -- two counts
  • Kidnapping/carrying without consent, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • Attempted armed robbery with use of force, as party to a crime -- two counts
  • Possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony -- two counts
  • Burglary, armed with a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime

Christopher Anderson

24-year-old Christopher Anderson faces four felonies:

  • Attempted first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • Kidnapping/carrying without consent, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • Attempted armed robbery with use of force, as party to a crime
  • Possession of a fiream by a person convicted of a felony

19-year-old Nicholas Travis Jr. faces three felonies:

  • Attempted armed robbery with use of force, as party to a crime
  • Burglary, armed with a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • Possession of a firearm by an adjudicated delinquent of a felony

19-year-old Imani Bates faces two felonies:

  • Burglary, armed with a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • Felony bail jumping

September alleged kidnapping, victim set on fire

According to a criminal complaint, on September 17th, police were dispatched to the area near 53rd and Clarke, where they found a male victim on fire. A 911 caller indicated the victim was yelling: "I can't believe my guys did this to me." The caller reported hearing glass breaking, and spotted a car taking off from the rear of a home in the area. A second witness told investigators he saw the victim jump from a window while on fire. This witness and neighbors tried to pour water onto the victim. The witness said he saw "a figure" running towards a vehicle behind a home.

The complaint says this case was determined to have been a kidnapping and torture by fire of the victim. Investigators were able to determine the victim and another person were met by suspects who forced them into the victim's home on 53rd Street at gunpoint. Prosecutors say the suspects then ransacked the victim's home looking for money, before obtaining gasoline and pouring it onto the victim. One of the suspects then lit the victim on fire. The victim then jumped from a window of the home. The complaint says one of the suspects shot at the victim as he fled the home. Three "exit bullet strikes" were found on the front of the home, three casings were recovered from inside -- and there was fire damage inside. The complaint says the home appeared to have been "ransacked."

Prosecutors say the victim in this case suffered second and third degree burns to his face, chest, and lower abdomen. He suffered burns over 60% of his body, and his injuries were determined to be life-threatening. His neighbor said he was in the hospital from mid-September until just before Christmas.

"It still makes me nauseous when I think of it. I wasn't able to put it out right away, which hurts my heart. It will hurt my heart until I die," Mary Kemnitz said.

Investigators were eventually able to speak with the victim, weeks after this incident. He said on the day he was burned, he had been driving a rental car with another person, and as they were driving, another vehicle pulled in front of them -- blocking them. The victim said another vehicle blocked his vehicle from behind. The victim said Deonta Ames got out of the vehicle in front of the victim, and pointed an AK-47 type assault rifle at the victim and the person he was with. The victim said Christopher Anderson also pointed a weapon at them.

According to the victim, Ames and Anderson then got into his vehicle and Ames "began asking where the money was." The victim said Ames and Anderson were demanding money and threatening to kill him and the person he was with. The victim was then ordered by Ames to drive to the victim's home at 53rd and Clarke. The two other vehicles followed them to the victim's home.

Christopher Anderson, Deonta Ames, Imani Bates, Nicholas Travis Jr.

At his home, the victim told investigators he was forced inside by Ames, Anderson and a third black male, who was wearing a black ski mask. According to the complaint, the victim and the person he was with were forced to kneel inside the home, as Ames, Anderson and the third suspect asked where the money was, and where the "work" (illegal narcotics) were. The victim said he was struck in the back of his head with a weapon, and Anderson said "This (expletive) doesn't want to talk. Get me the gas." The victim said Anderson then poured gasoline on him and the person he was with. The victim said he was then lit on fire.

As he was running, the victim said he heard someone shooting at him, so he jumped out the window while still on fire. One of his neighbors came over and tried to help him.

The victim told investigators he had known Ames for a long time and "couldn't believe he would do this to him." He noted that Ames had been federally indicted, and knew Ames associated with a street gang known as "HPT."

The complaint notes Anderson was associated with the "Brothers of the Struggle" street gang.

October attempted homicide

On October 7th, police were dispatched to the scene of an attempted homicide at 16th and Nash. There, investigators found a vehicle that had crashed into a tree -- with heavy damage to its hood, and a bullet hole in its front windshield -- along with 11 bullet strikes to the vehicle. Blood was found on the driver's seat.

Police spoke with a victim, who said he was driving that vehicle with a friend. He was en route to take his friend home, when a vehicle pulled up with its passenger windows rolled down. The victim said two people started shooting at his vehicle.

According to the complaint, this victim reported he was a witness in an open homicide case, and his name had appeared in the paper as a person who had identified the shooter. He said he believed this shooting that happened on October 7th could have been related to the fact that he was a witness to a homicide.

Christopher Anderson is friends with the individual charged in connection with that homicide, the complaint notes.

Investigators took a look at surveillance video from a smoke shop near 18th and Teutonia. The victim and his friend were at this smoke shop just prior to the shooting. Surveillance cameras captured video of the individuals who were in the vehicle from which the gunshots were fired -- and the complaint indicates Christopher Anderson was the driver of that vehicle.

The complaint says a passenger in Anderson's vehicle (later identified as Deonte Ames), upon seeing the victim at the smoke shop, ran into the smoke shop and got Anderson's attention. They then ran to their vehicle and took off at a high rate of speed -- the video shows. The complaint says Deonta Ames admitted he was a passenger in Anderson's vehicle during this shooting.

November home invasion/armed robbery

On November 26th, police were dispatched to the area near 40th and Silver Spring Drive for a report of an armed robbery. Officers learned two black males had fled the scene on foot. Near 37th and Silver Spring, a man wearing a mask was spotted running. That person was later identified as Deonta Ames. Ames was eventually arrested.

A second suspect was taken into custody by another officer near 38th and Silver Spring. That person was later identified as Nicholas Travis.

At the scene near 40th and Silver Spring Drive, investigators found a crowbar, and a basement window that appeared to have been pried off. As investigators followed the paths the suspects took when they fled, they recovered a black Ruger .45 caliber handgun with eight unspent cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber. A black Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun with 10 unspent cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber was found near a vehicle parked in the area. Investigators believe Ames and Travis dropped these firearms as they fled. Also recovered was a cell phone that was determined to belong to the victim from the armed robbery.

According to the complaint, Imani Bates was found in the vehicle parked in the area. Inside that vehicle, police recovered two AK-47 type assault rifles -- consistent with the weapons described by the victim who was allegedly kidnapped and set on fire in September. One weapon had 56 unspent cartridges and one in the chamber, and the second had a 30 round magazine with 11 unspent cartridges and one in the chamber.

The victim from the November armed robbery spoke with investigators. According to the complaint, she said she was inside a home near 40th and Silver Spring with seven other family members when two people entered the kitchen from the basement. The first suspect had two firearms, she said. The victim said she was on the phone, so she kept the person she was talking to on the line in the hopes that that person would call police.

When another family member entered the room, the suspect pointed both firearms at that person. The suspect then began yelling at an individual who was sleeping -- ordering the family members to "get on the floor" -- with the second suspect dragging a family member into the room. The victim told investigators one suspect asked who was all in the house, and indicated they would kill people they were not told about.

According to the complaint, the first suspect began demanding money, while the second suspect searched the room, turning over couches and furniture. The complaint says the first suspect said: "I'll kill all you. All you going to die tonight."

After the victim and her family members were held at gunpoint for about 20 minutes, the suspects fled with the victim's cell phone, the complaint says.

Nicholas Travis

Nicholas Travis spoke with investigators.

According to the complaint, Travis said on November 26th, he asked Imani Bates for a ride, and Ames happened to be in the front passenger seat when Bates picked him up. Travis said he then learned of a "sweet burglary of a drug dealer" who has $30,000 inside a home. Travis said he was "promised a new vehicle for participating in the burglary." Travis said Bates set up this burglary, and took them to the home near 40th and Silver Spring.

The complaint says Travis told investigators he and Ames were the suspects who entered the home through the basement window.

Travis said when they exited the home, they "saw police and ran."

Imani Bates

Travis admitted he was in possession of a .45 Ruger during the burglary and armed robbery. He said he found the gun in an alley 30 days prior. He denied any knowledge of the AK-47s found in the vehicle Bates was in when police arrived.

Deonta Ames has a jury trial set to begin on May 30th in this case. Ames has pleaded not guilty -- and cash bond has been set at $750,000.

Christopher Anderson has a jury trial scheduled to begin on April 3rd in this case. He has pleaded not guilty. Cash bond has been set at $200,000.

Imani Bates has a plea hearing set for June 5th in this case. Cash bond was amended on March 3rd from $50,000 to $35,000.

Nicholas Travis has a status conference set for March 10th. Cash bond in January was reduced from $200,000 to $75,000.

In addition to this case, Christopher Anderson is charged in connection with the shooting deaths of Jarvis Johnson and Vincent Williams --  shootings that happened on two different dates and locations within a six-day span in October of 2016. Johnson was a passenger in a vehicle when he was fatally shot near 32nd and Meinecke on October 6th, 2016. Williams was fatally shot near 21st and Olive on October 12th, 2016.