“Acting out of anger, anguish, anxiety:” Faith leaders respond after night of unrest in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE -- Seventeen arrests were made Saturday night, August 13th and Sunday morning, August 14th as violent unrest filled the area near Sherman and Burleigh after a fatal officer-involved shooting near 44th and Auer Saturday afternoon. Six businesses were started on fire, and there were 48 activations of MPD's "Shot Spotter" shots fired technology. Four officers were hurt -- struck by concrete and flying glass. Seven squad cars were damaged, and eight rounds of gunfire struck a Bearcat vehicle being utilized by law enforcement.

Despite all of the violence, there were no use of force incidents by Milwaukee police.

The violence and looting erupted after a fatal officer-involved shooting near 44th and Auer around 4:00 p.m. Saturday.

Prayer walk in Milwaukee

"Most of them were acting out of anger and anguish and anxiety from their community life and experiences," Pastor Darnell Robinson said.

Robinson witnessed the unrest Saturday night.

"Seen a lot of the kids I knew at four, five and six years old involved in a good way, in a bad way," Robinson said.

Prayer walk in Milwaukee

A pair of police officers stopped two people driving through the north-side neighborhood, police said.

“I was advised it was a suspicious stop. This vehicle was behaving in a suspicious manner. It’s a rental car as it turns out. We’ve not ascertained its status as to whether or not it was lawfully rented or stolen,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said Sunday afternoon.

That led to a foot chase between the people in the car and police, which ended when an officer shot one of the two -- a 23-year-old man who was armed with a handgun, authorities said.

Officer-involved shooting near 44th & Auer

Officer-involved shooting near 44th & Auer

The police officer "ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun," Barrett said during a news conference later in the day. "He had the gun with him and the officer fired several times."

The man, identified by Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn as Sylville Smith, died at the scene. It was unclear Sunday morning whether the second occupant of the car was in police custody.

The officer who fired the fatal shots was not injured and will be placed on administrative duty during an investigation.

Sylville Smith/Facebook

The officer is 24 years old and has six years of service with the Milwaukee Police Department -- three as an officer.

Chief Flynn said Sunday afternoon that officer is African-American. That officer is not being identified, as Flynn said there are concerns for his safety.

The officer was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. Flynn and Barrett said that body camera video is not being released at this point, as the investigation is ongoing. Barrett noted that the officer who fired in this case hadn't been interviewed as of 3:00 p.m. Sunday.

"A young man lost his life (Saturday) afternoon. No matter what, his family has to be hurting. There was a body camera the officer was wearing. The video will be under the jurisdiction of the state of Wisconsin. I have seen a still photo extracted from that video. That photo demonstrates, without question, that (Smith) had a gun in his hand. The police officer didn't know it at the time, but there were 23 rounds in that gun. He had more bullets in his gun than the police officer had in his gun. What that police officer encountered was an individual who had a gun in his hand. I would like to see the video released as soon as possible but I agree -- the officer has not even been interviewed yet, the officer who was involved," Barrett said.

"This happened (Saturday) night, OK? I don`t think there`s anyone in the country who`s released a body-worn camera of an officer-involved shooting in 24 hours or 36 hours. I think Chicago set the modern record with a week," Flynn said.

Flynn said the suspect, Sylville Smith, had a lengthy arrest record with MPD.

FOX6's AJ Bayatpour spoke with Smith's father, Patrick Smith Sunday -- who blamed himself for his son's death.

"They`re looking at their dad like, 'he`s doing all these things.' I just got out of jail probably two months ago, but I`ve been going back-and-forth in jail and they see these things -- so I`d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to. When they see the wrong role model, this is what you get," Patrick Smith said.

Sylville Smith/Patrick Smith

Sylville Smith/Patrick Smith

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating.

Pastor Darnell Robinson, along with those from several churches and faiths returned to the area where there was unrest on Sunday.

"There is a high call on us. There is a high responsibility and we need to respond and we need to be there," Robinson said.

They gathered at Washington Park High School and walked to the troubled area. Even the walk towards Sherman and Burleigh had its own unifying purpose: Church members were asked to meet up with people along the way and share and listen to life experiences.

Prayer walk in Milwaukee

"We don`t lead with religious talk. We lead with love and we lead with listening and we lead with compassion as you build a relationship," Peter Borg, pastor of Citybrook Church said.

The multicultural unit is also working to bring the city and suburbs together.

"I hope there can be understanding, particularly by Christians in the suburbs that they really have advantages that allow them to be there, but at the foot of the cross, we are all exactly the same. No sin is greater than any other sin," Borg said.

Prayer walk in Milwaukee

Adjacent to the devastation Sunday, the group gathered, holding hands and praying for peace in Milwaukee, as officials hoped for a calmer night.


  • confused

    Acting on anger, anguish and anxiety? No. It was just flat out arson, looting, rioting and violence. They were using a cop shooting a suspect as an excuse to break multiple laws and commit felonies. They should have waited to see that it was a black officer shooting a black armed felon in possession of a stolen gun. Now they have businesses that if they had any common sense would never return. Buses that shouldn’t stop at destroyed bus shelters. Firefighters that should never show up since they weren’t allowed at the BP fire because of the shots being fired. The bad guys who justice refuses to lock up are running the show. The bad guys can haul buckets of water for the fires and police themselves. They can figure out how to get places with no bus. I feel badly about the good people but until the thugs, felons, criminals, etc are testified against and locked, the witnesses protected this is what it will be.

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