Milwaukee unrest: Firefighters battled fires at six businesses on city’s north side

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee firefighters battled fires at six businesses on Saturday evening, August 13th and into Sunday, August 14th -- in the wake of an officer-involved fatal shooting near 44th and Auer.

Those businesses included the BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh, Jet Beauty at 35th and Fond du Lac, BMO Harris Bank at 36th and Fond du Lac, O'Reilly Auto Parts at Fond du Lac and Burleigh, MJM Liquor at Fond du Lac and North and a second liquor store near 21st and Hopkins.


FOX6's Brad Hicks indicated while the fire at MJM Liquor spread to the second floor of the building, it appeared to have started on the first floor.

Angry crowds took to the streets in Milwaukee on Saturday night to protest the shooting death of an armed man by a police officer hours earlier.

In addition to the six fires, seven squad cars were damaged. Eight rounds of gunfire struck a Bearcat vehicle being utilized by law enforcement.

Four officers were hurt -- three were struck by concrete and one was hit by flying glass.

Seventeen arrests were made overnight, and all of those arrested have prior criminal records.

Shot Spotter, MPD's "shots fired" technology was activated 48 times overnight. Police said a 16-year-old girl was struck by gunfire near 43rd and Burleigh.

Despite all this violence, there were no "use of force" incidents by MPD during the unrest.

Scene near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

Scene near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee


The incident started Saturday afternoon when two officers stopped two people who were in a car in the north side, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.

“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.

Shortly after, both car occupants fled on foot as officers pursued them, police said.

During the chase, an officer shot one of the two -- 23-year-old Sylville Smith, who was armed with a handgun, according to authorities.

Sylville Smith

Sylville Smith

officer-involved shooting2

He (officer) ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. "He had the gun with him and the officer fired several times."

Smith at the scene. It's unclear whether the second occupant of the car is in police custody.

Smith was shot twice -- in the arm and chest, the mayor said. His handgun was stolen during a burglary in Waukesha in March, according to police.

"The victim of that burglary reported 500 rounds of ammunition were also stolen with the handgun," police said in a statement.

Officer-involved shooting near 44th & Auer

Officer-involved shooting near 44th & Auer

The officer, 24, was assigned to District 7 and has six years of service with the Milwaukee Police Department -- three of those as an officer.

He was not injured and will be placed on administrative duty during the investigation and subsequent review by the district attorney's office.

Chief Flynn said Sunday the officer is African-American, and there are concerns for his safety.

At the time of the shooting, he was wearing a body camera.

The body camera video is not being released at this point, as the investigation continues.

“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,” Barrett said.

“We’re going to have to weigh a couple different things. We have to weigh the public’s benefit. We have to weigh the rights of the officer involved. We have to weigh the concern that DCI has to have an investigation. I suppose there are people that would say we might have to protect a potential jury pool someday, I don’t know,” Flynn said.

By state law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will lead the investigation.

Unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

Unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

As the chaos escalated, authorities implored the crowds to disperse and go home. Some used social media to urge others to come out and take part in the protests, according to Barrett.

"If you love your son, if you love your daughter text them, call them, pull them by the ears and get them home. Get them home right now before more damage is done," the mayor said.

The mayor said police presence would be strong as part of an "all-out-effort" to restore order. At least three people have been arrested, he said.

The shooting occurred near the scene of a double homicide that happened this month. In the related attacks August 9, a man was shot dead while another one was fatally stabbed, police said.

What remains after unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

What remains after unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

"This is a neighborhood that has unfortunately been affected by violence in the recent past," Barrett said. "I know this neighborhood very very well. And there are a lot of really really good people who live in this area -- in the Sherman Park area, who can't stand this violence."

At 3:20 a.m. Sunday, police tweeted that they were restoring order and "reducing deployments."

Local officials planned to meet with church and community leaders Sunday to discuss ways to move forward.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.


    • killdahoodrats

      Only if it’s a black armed criminal and only if the police kill them. Other than that it’s ok.

    • Bryant Larsen

      No, Ive noticed a pattern and seems to only happen with young black men. If you city had someone other than a black man who got shot, you will not have to worry about people trying to burn buildings down.

  • Thomas

    Three employees were trapped in the gas station. It took an armored car to get them out alive after some of these rioters tried to smash in the plexiglas. I heard that only 3 people were arrested.

  • slid ingintoit


  • John Patrick Mullan

    “Black people of Milwaukee are tired. They are tired of living under this oppression.”

    They should be tired of the oppression of 23-year-old criminals running around with loaded, stolen handguns. If the police hadn’t stopped this suspect, whom do you imagine would have been endangered by those 23 rounds when they would have eventually been fired? Who suffered from the loss of infrastructure and economic vitality of the community by the loss of the gas station, the auto parts store and the three other businesses?

    It’s hard to help a community, whose leaders spend so much of their energy and resources trying to support the elements that are destroying that community.

    The police are not the enemy here.

  • know thanx

    Black officer shoots black suspect. Black rioters burn down black neighborhood. Black sheriff does job. Heck the rednecks are free and clear on this this one. It’s Miller time!

  • Mark Hack

    If someone runs from the cops, armed and don’t drop the gun when told to, you’re going to die.. that should be common sense.. then you got these dumb ass people doing this acting like they were ” victims “..

  • Miles Davis

    Where’s Gwen Moore during all of this??….waiting to say “Yup Uh huh, whatever Obama says, that’s right”!

  • ANDY G

    Put the monkeys in a cage where they belong, if they resist shoot em or beat em, if they want to act like animals treat them like animals.

Comments are closed.