3 suspects charged in fatal shooting of Karen Simek; “grabbed a purse from the lady and the gun went off”

Karen Simek

MILWAUKEE -- After nearly a year after the fatal shooting of Karen Simek, there's been a break in the case. Charges have been filed against three people in connection: 26-year-old Carl Knight, 25-year-old David McLaurin and 20-year-old Samantha Gustafson.

Simek was shot and killed during a robbery in the neighborhood near 12th and National around 5:40 a.m. on January 31, 2017. She was walking to the job she had the past 11 years at Garden Fresh Foods.

"It's certainly the end of a chapter," said Kevin Sasse, victim's husband.

It is the best news Kevin Sasse could get at the start of the new year. A call from police letting him know there had been a break in his wife's case.

Carl Knight, David McLaurin, Samantha Gustafson

"That is a relief to know that he is in jail and not out there somewhere," said Sasse.

Kevin Sasse

According to a criminal complaint, police recovered multiple digital video recordings from different exterior security cameras in the area of the homicide scene. A review of the videos shows a male subject "accosting the victim on the east side of 12th Street, on the sidewalk outside the door to her workplace." The two are standing face-to-face for a brief moment -- and "then the victim falls to the ground." The complaint indicates the video shows the male subject "sprinting southbound on 12th St."

For nearly a year, no arrests were made.

"He's going to do it again, he's going to do something else and that was probably more my fear as the days and weeks dragged on," Sasse said.

The case went cold until a former roommate, David McLaurin, told police what happened. McLaurin said, "Knight was getting money by doing armed robberies in January of 2017." In early February, "Knight stated to McLaurin that he had shot and killed an 'older white lady on National.'" Knight told McLaurin the lady had a purse and Knight wanted it. When he went to take the purse, "something happened to scare Knight so he shot the lady." McLaurin stated he "disbelieved Knight at first, but then later learned about the homicide" of Karen Simek.

Prosecutors say McLaurin and 20-year-old Samantha Gustafson helped Knight hide out after the shooting. He was eventually arrested in Chicago.

Carl Knight

On December 27, 2017, Knight spoke with Milwaukee police detectives. He indicated he had been pressured "to get money somehow" by his roommates. He stated that "the location at 12th and National would be an opportune location for an armed robbery." Knight went on to say he "grabbed a purse from the lady and the gun went off one time." He told police he took the bag and ran back across the street.

Sasse is relieved by the arrests, but is more focused on his wife's legacy.

"Karen's memory is my biggest concern right now," Sasse said. "She loved life. She loved being with people and animals and everything else the world has to offer."

Now as one chapter closes, he is hopeful a new year will bring some peace.

"I will certainly be satisfied to know that they found and convicted the right person, that he is in a place where he can't go out and hurt other people," Sasse said.

Karen Simek and Kevin Sasse

The three suspects in this case face the following criminal charges:

  • Felony murder (Knight)
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon (Knight)
  • Harboring or aiding a felon, as a party to a crime (Gustafson, McLaurin)

Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez issued the following statement in light of the charges being filed in this case:

"I sincerely hope the charges offer some justice to the family of the victim, and I want to commend MPD detectives and officers who worked diligently to solve the case."