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“A lot of people are just heartbroken:” Hundreds pack church for Laylah Petersen’s funeral

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Hundreds packed Our Lady of Good Hope Church on N. 41st Street in Milwaukee on Wednesday, November 12th to pay their respects to five-year-old Laylah Petersen. The little girl was shot in the head nearly one week ago while sitting on her grandfather's lap in a home near 58th and Fairmount. Her killer remains at large.


Nearly every pew was full on Wednesday morning, as hundreds mourned the loss of a very young girl.

A visitation was scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — and a mass was held from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Following mass, there was a procession to Holy Cross Catholic Cemeteries on W. Nash Street, where Laylah Petersen was buried.

"Obviously there`s a lot of people who are just heartbroken," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett was on hand for Laylah Petersen's funeral. He says he's just trying to make sense of why this young life was taken.

"This is probably the most senseless act I`ve seen since I became mayor. It just is unspeakable. You have a little girl, a beautiful little girl, sitting on her grandfather`s lap in the living room -- the place you would think would be the safest place in the world and she loses her life to totally senseless violence," Mayor Barrett said.

Petersen was shot and killed last Thursday evening, November 6th. The fact that police don't have anyone in custody in this case weighed down mourners even more.

"Today is the day somebody needs to come forth. The people that did this -- whether it was one or two -- those people are lost. They need help. Somebody in that family -- somebody knows something," Petersen family spokesman Richard Schwoegler said.

The main focus Wednesday inside Our Lady of Good Hope Church was remembering Laylah Petersen.

Laylah's aunt read a poem, and in the homily given by the priest, he shared a personal story about meeting the little girl. Children's Hospital of Wisconsin donated a tapestry as a "thank you" for Laylah's donated heart.

"Her heart was donated so that a child could live," Schwoegler said.

"I think the little children in particular don`t realize the gravity of what`s happened and that`s probably very, very good. They were talking about 'look at Laylah here. Look at Laylah smile here,' and that`s how she should be remembered and I hope that is how she is remembered," Mayor Barrett said.

Our Lady of Good Hope Church is accepting gifts of support — such as stuffed animals, cards, candles, etc. All stuffed animals will be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Laylah and Destiny Petersen

Laylah and Destiny Petersen

Meanwhile, as their little girl is laid to rest, Laylah Petersen's family and others in the community are just hoping someone comes forward with information that can help police identify the individual(s) responsible for Laylah's death.

“When you have an innocent life that`s taken, the person that has done this needs no protection — or stop snitching protection. What he needs to do is face trial for murder of an innocent life,” community activist Tory Lowe said.

“Citizens for Urban Justice" has put forth a $5,000 reward in the Laylah Petersen case. That is in addition to a $5,000 reward being offered by the ATF. It is hoped that the money will fuel someone to come forward with information that will lead police to a suspect.

A fundraiser will be held for Laylah Petersen on Saturday, November 29th, from 2:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the Schwabenhof in Menomonee Falls.

An account has been established in Laylah Petersen’s honor at CLICK HERE to make a donation.

IMPORTANT: Anyone with information in this case should contact the Milwaukee Police Department at (414)935-7360, or ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS. All calls will be kept confidential.

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  • Debbie Lou the person/persons that commited this horrendous act—I hope the guilt of this crime racks your brains (if you have any)I hope that you are not able to sleep at night because of this..I hope that you are scared out of your wits, because YOU WILL BE FOUND, its only a matter of time..and you will be the sorriest animal on earth…you are an animal, lowest of the low, a coward, you are a heartless coward…..

  • 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.

    • bderk.

      We need to stop bringing race into this. I do understand where you are coming from, but No matter what color you are no family should have to deal with this. A child lost her life, a family is in pain. We all need to stand together in this case and find justice for this baby girl. Pray that these thugs are caught and punished.

      • Alan Martin

        keep YOUR racist hate to yourself you hypocritical self gratifying coward.

        it IS about race… black on white racial violence and murder is HORRIFIC and its commonplace, and NO ONE SPEAKS ABOUT IT because its RACIST HYPOCRITES just like you that look to dismiss, downplay or outright CONDONE it.
        keep YOUR mouth shut you racist worm.

    • Antgib

      The story mentions none of this. Where does it say anything at all about a Black male walking up to anyone’s house?

  • Tasha

    R.I.P to yet another beautiful Angel. Praying for justice and hope whoever did this will do the right thing and turn themselves in🙏

  • G Man

    These horrendous acts will continue to happen until community leaders/politicians/judges start getting tough. No more 10 year sentences and then release. Send these thugs that like shooting guns to the Middle East to fight terrorism for 20-25 years. No military benefits except clothes, food and a tent to sleep in. If you survive, you will be allowed to return home under 15 years probation. We keep hearing Barrett and Flynn blabbing on and on but it just seems as if it’s all a bunch of BS

    • REAGAN 84

      AMEN G Man! Justice and long sentences (better yet the death penalty) will never happen though because the Dumocrats like Trolley Tommy rely on these criminals for votes.

    • MenmaUzumaki

      yea good idea. lets give these guys guns and promise them that when they return they still have to deal with parole. Not to mention there are a number of inmates that are muslim. I’m sure they won’t join the other side or sell their guns for drugs or anything. smh

    • MenmaUzumaki

      The last thing a military unit needs is an undisciplined soldier(s). They obviously lack discipline, thats why they were incarcerated to begin with.

  • Devin

    Please someone find these cowards and bring them to me do I can kill them the way the killed that sweet baby. Im serious..

  • jennifer b

    This is not a race driven act and Layla is not 100% white. I grew up off 33rd and Center and was the only white family for blocks. Never once wer’e we targeted because we wer’e white. I knew everyone, had friends everywhere and walked up & down those blocks with never a single problem. I personally do not think the family in general was targeted what so ever because if thats the case, they would have known young kids wer’e in the home. There’s a possiblity they wer’e targeted and the shooters did know but didn’t care, but i doubt it, it was a random act!

  • smokey

    LAYLAH PETERSEN was killed who cares about race Trevon Martin was killed who cares about race first person to say race is racist lets see who comments next

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