Police “befuddled” as to motive in fatal shooting of Laylah Petersen

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated.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.
Data pix.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee police say the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fatal shooting of five-year-old Laylah Petersen.

Laylah Petersen

Laylah Petersen

Petersen was shot while sitting on a relative's lap Thursday evening, November 6th inside a home near 58th and Fairmount in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Police Capt. Aaron Rapp said in a noon news conference on Friday that investigators are "vigorously following up on leads, processing evidence recovered from the scene and talking with witnesses." But Rapp also said officials are "befuddled" as to a motive for this crime.

"In this case, at this point, this bullet read, 'to whom it may concern,'" said Rapp. He said this should concern everyone in this community. "If you saw something, say something. If you hear something, say something," said Rapp.

Police say they are looking for one or more handguns, one or more suspects.

Last night, and during the day investigators combed the neighborhood for video cameras but would not share if they found any recordings. Police are interviewing witnesses and going over evidence.

Next door neighbor, Latishia Jones, says she plans to move.

"Unless they start adding on a family pack of bullet proof vests for us to vie in these communities, I mean I don't know what they want us to do," said Jones.

This violence is too much for her, and all of us.

"This person really broke my heart. And it's a shame, but not only in my heart, but a communities heart," said Jones.

Milwaukee police are imploring the public to call 414-935-7360 if they have any information that could help investigators. ATF officials say the public can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS.

Laylah Petersen is the third child under 13 to die in a homicide in Milwaukee this year.

Data pix.
Data pix.

Related stories:


  • Trina

    Lord… Lord this story just breaks my heart an innocent soul! I’m praying for strength for the family and everyone who knew her! May she rest in Paradise! So sorry for their lost!!

  • Bishop K Nation

    GOD received another angel last night from this! I want to send a shout out to Chief Ed Flynn and the Milwaukee Police Department (the ones that really care about the community) because crimes like this touches the moral fabric of any human being. Our black community (LISTEN UP!) JESUS is the only way! (the way, truth, and life) and without JESUS in the hearts of our lost souls we’ll continue to see unfortunate crimes like this! (GET THIS PEOPLE!!!!!) JESUS the way! devil is a LIE!


    It is time for religious leaders to come together and address this issue that plagues our city. Color, denomination, these do not make a difference. Until we repent, until we put God first and until we can truly love our neighbor the devil will continue to have his way. May peace and joy that surpasses all understanding comfort this family during this time of sadness and agony.

    • bderk.

      Sorry Rev… These Thugs can’t be helped. We lost a baby. it’s time to get tough on these thugs by putting them away for life!!!!!

    • mickrussom

      God bless. You all need to grab some firearms and clean your neighborhoods of the filth yourselves. Its times to take the law into your hands and while retaining your faith, compassion and sense of justice and fairness cleanse the earth from the satanic evil that is those who field drugs and violence in your communities. You must take a stand against Satan and evil and its ok to eliminate those who serve the dark lord with force.

  • insomniac

    Rest in Heaven now Laylah.. you have your wings fly high and God be with Maggie and they family please give them peace that surpasses all understanding in this time of need.

  • Jenna

    Another innocent child who suffers because of people being stupid. Take your drugs and violence away from families. Rest in peace, baby girl.

    • mickrussom

      You all need to grab some munitions and cleanse your communities of the violent, evil beings. If I am ever on a jury I will not convict a vigilante that cleanses the world of the violent, evil satanic scum that have oppressed us long enough.

  • Kristine Hornak

    Kristine A Hornak I pray for this family and hope that the prayers guide the Police to those Nasty Devils doors that did this unforgivable sin to that helpless child. The family is going to need all the prayers in the world to get through this tragic time. Dear God please take a moment to help look over this family as they grieve for their little Angel that has joined you in the Heavens up above. Though it maybe to early for her soul to have to leave this earth please give the family the strength to make it through the tough times that they will have to over come in the days ahead. In Jesus name I pray, Amen…. I just sit and think this could be anyone’s child sitting by the window reading a book or watching a TV show. Why can’t the violence just STOP. Why is there so much hate in the world now days? It was not this bad that I could remember when I was growing up. I am afraid that the hate is taking over the good in people. How can that be turned around? I keep looking for my purpose in life…… Wonder when I will know? For now I will just keep doing what I have been and that is silently looking for that miracle that will make the world a better place AGAIN!

  • LeRoy Bowen

    Payers For The families of both this child and the other in Racine To the Shooter’s Involved Do the Right Thing Turn Yourselves In And end the suffering these famiilies are dealing with because of your actions

  • Tonya Dyson

    My condolences to the family of this beautiful young lady ……. When will it stop Milwaukee we say we’re tired and we need change and we do a lot of yapping but what are we really doing about this. Our children are now being affected in more ways then one….. my prayers are with the family.

  • John sizzle

    Where are the responsible people (elected officials) in the black community while horrific crimes like this continue unchecked.?Instead of focusing on race baiting and voting for political hacks who continue to keep your community down focus on the crime and irresponsibility within the black community. Demonstrations wasted any time a cop shoots a black person in situations where the black person attacks the cop are a waste of time. It is once again defending and protecting those who commit crimes . All the comments like usual are religious in nature rest in peace, etc. where is the anger? Instead of protesting and rioting when police JUSTIFIABLY shoot someone get pissed off at the criminals. WAKEUP Obama isn’t going to save you blacks are worse off now than they were before. Gwen Moore a complete embarrassment continues to get reelected and you wonder why this stuff happens?


    Look, somebody knows something. Forget this no snitching childish garbage and lets start pointing these characters out and get them off our streets. If you see something slightly suspicious, call the police. Even if its not suspicious, call the police. If you have a child you know is living the “thug life” keep an eye on that child and if necessary……..call the police!!!!!! Thoughts and prayers to the family of this beautiful little girl. God Bless.


    People we have got to stand up and take our streets back from these animals. They need to be locked up. Our children are not safe as long as no one has the courage to do something. It takes more than one person. This is going to take the whole community. If God is for us, He is worth more than the whole world against us. It is time to stand. If we don’t, this will continue.


    My prayers. The thugs need to be found and dealt without mercy. May the family find the strength through the lord and find peace. Overwhelming.

  • Mark

    adorable. but….. adorable or not. 5 years old. This world is simply not fair (yes, I know……. God has his reasons for everything). still…..

    • dancing in the ruins

      if god gets a kick out of this he must really be getting his jollies watching ISIS! and what about the holocaust?!?!
      yeah, don’t give me that ‘it’s all part of god’s plan garbage.’

      • Gabriel

        Couldn’t have said it better myself. Finally, someone intelligent among the crowd of idiots. If there is a god, where was it for this little girl? It would have been amazing if a celestial being actually stopped by to save a poor little girl like this.

  • !

    Rest in peace beautiful little girl. To the family my deepest condolences I can’t even imagine the hurt and loss you are facing. God bless your family.

    How is it within a day apart two very young beautiful girls fell victim to STUPIDITY!! Don’t people have any respect anymore? children? the next victim to thugs? TURN YOURSELF IN cowards. How could YOU live day to day knowing YOU shot a child STOP being A f***ing COWARD and FESS up turn yourself in. You took a innicent live of a five year old. I hope everyday for the rest of your lives the picture of the beautiful girls shot by your ignorance haunts you for the rest of your pathetic waist of space life. HELL has a spot waiting for you. do you have a soul? A conscience? You can’t run forever so maybe do the Right thing for once, the families deserve JUSTICE.

  • Chris Multerer

    Allegedly the house was targeted by shooter(s). Most likely a hit. As long as there’s drugs and money involved, this behavior will never end. Ever !! Or a ridiculous dispute between a family member and another POS gangbanger.

  • Chris Multerer

    Question for Chief Flynn..with all the police officers in the department, specifically patrol officers, why are district lots filled with squads ? Case in point, district #4 at 0800 on weekdays. Please, enlighten me.

  • Willie Howl

    Its time to get this house (our community) in order. Every little thug and gangbanger out there take note. You dont own this city. We do. And we are taking it back. So, if you fight in school, your @$$ is getting reported. If you fight in the streets, your @$$ is getting reported. If we find out you sell weed/dope/etc, your @$$ is getting reported. If you rob people or stores, you @$$ is getting reported. If you have a gun illegally, your @$$ is getting reported. If you even joke about hurting or killing, your @$$ is get reported. Your best bet is to change immediately or move. Milwaukee (as in the good people of Milwaukee) will no longer excuse, accept, or justify your $*@%. We are not afraid of you little punks. We are going to start turning you in and locking you up one by one until our city is safe again. You started this war. You fired the first shots. But we will end it. You. Are. Finished.

  • mh

    Now this is a case where im totally ok with the police gunning down the suspects with 50 plus shots! Also please make sure officers that you shoot the suspect in the face so that his family will have to have a closed casket wake/funeral just like the little girls family will. The community is tired of these POS. NO SYMPATHY here for the suspects or the suspects family. KILL THESE BUMS and stop wasting our tax money on people that will never be productive productive members of society.

  • Semper Fidelis

    How will anything ever change if the criminal justice system thinks like liberals and give thugs 4/5/7/99 tries to be good, it’s a complete joke, we need judges that will really lock thugs of all colors away forever for such crimes, why not push to bring the death penalty back to Wisconsin, along with one year appeal only, after that, you are history,I don’t think it takes 18 years to put one to death, that will change Milwaukee street crime.

  • insomniac

    candle lite vigil and prayer at the house at 6pm sunday the 9th. anyone who would like to come is welcome.

  • chris

    Milwaukee needs a vigilante to go out and start eliminating these thugs. If the police and “activists” can’t make this city great again, maybe it’s time for someone to take the law into their own hands and terminate the undesirables.

    • Jackie H

      That’s not the way to go. Being a vigilante could cause a horrible mistake… nobody has the right to be a one-person judge and jury. These murderers took someone’s life into their hands and obvoiusly hit the wrong person / target / house. All I know is that there is no conceivable way that this child offended them in any way, and they will never be able to undo that heartache and harm that their actions have caused.

  • Jesse

    Time for our legislators to revisit the Death Penalty. I am tired of these evil individuals getting a life sentence or a little “rehab” time. We need to rid our society of this dirt!

  • Richard Symonowicz

    Until police in Zoowaukee crack down on gang`s and gun`s this will continue to be a shoot out. So many innocent victims have to die for no reason,,,Zoowaukee is not a save place day or night , now even in your house.Police need more informers who know the streets to help get control Hit the jail`s find street wise criminal`s who will work with police on early release to be undercover informers ,,Hey it`s a start to find these crazy one`s….

  • JohnG911

    Befuddled! Police around the country are preparing for the black racial VIOLENCE that is absolutely certain to follow the verdict announcement of Officer Wilson’s indictment. Police statistics show blacks commit 5 times as many interracial murders than whites and blacks are 14 times more likely to commit murder than whites. Yet Milwaukee police are “befuddled” as to the motive for this heinous murder? Really!

    May be the singer Rihanna can give the geniuses running the Milwaukee police a possible hint for a motive. “What’s the best thing about visiting the White House?” a reporter with TMZ asked the 26-year-old. >b>“My president being black,” Rihanna responded.

  • steven james

    Can you imagine a group of whites shooting blindly into the only black-occupied house on the street? It would be national news!

  • Semper Fidelis

    Where’s Al and Jesse?

    Two black males in Milwaukee walked up to the home of a white family, in a majority black neighborhood, and unleashed a hail of gunfire. A five year old white girl was murdered while sitting on her grandfather’s lap.

    Milwaukee police say there is no question the shooters were deliberating trying to kill people inside the house. At least a dozen bullets were fired directly into the house. There may have been a third person driving a getaway car.

    The house was located in a census tract that is 77% black and 14% white.

    The Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee channel 6 have actually been trying to downplay the murder. They are falsely reporting that it was “a stray bullet.” That directly contradicts all the evidence found by police.

    If the races were reversed, this would be the biggest news story in the entire western world right now. Imagine for one second that two white males walked up to a black occupied home, in a mostly white neighborhood, and opened fire. Imagine a five year old black girl was murdered while sitting on her grandfather’s lap. There would weeks of national coverage. There would be documentaries. The story would be revisited by the national media over and over for the next ten years.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.