“I’m broken-hearted:” Business owner speaks out after watching his building go up in flames

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MILWAUKEE -- Many on Milwaukee's north side said they're fed up with the violence and the fires that erupted Saturday night, August 13th and Sunday morning, August 14th in the wake of a fatal officer-involved shooting in Milwaukee Saturday afternoon. Others said they're angry at the police. FOX6's Brad Hicks was on the streets early Sunday, August 14th to sample the pulse of the community.

Multiple buildings and businesses were set on fire late Saturday. 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 and MJM Liquor at Fond du Lac and North. A traffic signal was also bent and bus shelters overturned. Also, police squads were damaged during the course of the night. And there were reports of looting.

FOX6's Brad Hicks early on Sunday morning spoke with a man who watched his business , A to Z Wholesale near Fond du Lac and North go up in flames.

"I'm a wholesaler of soda and juice. I deal with a lot of these gas stations. The one they burned down on Sherman and Burleigh -- that's one of my best customers. I was sleeping. My wife told me my nephew called and said the building was on fire. They busted all the front windows out. The officer said it looks like they came in through the back. The one officer said the building was totaled so -- I don't know," the man said.

Brad Hicks: "You put a lot into that business?"

"14 years," the man said.

Brad Hicks: "When you own a business like that, is there insurance? How do you recover?"

"I have insurance, but you have a lot of creditors you owe money to, so it's just a sad, sad day in Milwaukee. I'm broken-hearted about it. Milwaukee's a good city," the man said.

It will take awhile to determine exactly how much damage was caused by the fires and violence Saturday night and Sunday morning -- but many said they're frustrated it happened.

""The gas station is devastated. Obviously it's a total loss. That's a business owner who was making an honest living, and now the gas station is reduced to nothing. A lot of people don't want to hear it, but a lot of what's going on, we're doing to ourselves. It's never going to change if we keep doing stuff like this. How do you expect to get a positive outcome from this type of negativity and destruction? I'm looking at an entire gas station being burnt down. I'm looking at somebody has to go to work tomorrow and their bus shelter is face down on the ground.  From here to that corner to that corner.  What did we prove?  What did we accomplish?" the man said.

Brad Hicks: "With the anger that's out there, because there is some anger, and we all know the history that's gone into this, what would be a positive way people could take that anger and feel like their anger was heard, and respected and honored, but then something positive came from it?"

"They have to talk about it.  They have to talk about it. The same way you and I are talking right now. They can talk to the officers out here right now," the man said.

Fire burns at gas station near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

Fire burns at gas station near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

Jet Beauty


O'Reilly Auto Parts set on fire

O'Reilly Auto Parts set on fire

Fire at liquor store near Fond du Lac & Meinecke

Fire at liquor store near Fond du Lac & Meinecke

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

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

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

"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."

The man, identified by his father as 23-year-old Sylville Smith died 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.

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.

At the time of the shooting, he was wearing a body camera, Barrett said, adding that it was his understanding that it was operational.

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

Officer-involved shooting near 44th & Auer

Officer-involved shooting near 44th & Auer

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 were arrested, he said.

Unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

Unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

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.

"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.

What remains after unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee

What remains after unrest near Sherman & Auer in Milwaukee


  • phacepalm

    The good people in these areas are out numbered. Plus the judges letting the terrorist thugs go with a slap on the wrist. Only to create more death & destruction.

  • Dylan

    Starts with mom and dad…starts with being a good person…starts at home…bad behavior=bad outcomes….it is not a police problem it is a.problem with peoples.that behave like animals.destroying their own neighborhoods..killing each other…the police aremdo8ng their job the thug that died stole the gun from waukesha and had a lengthy criminal record at the age of 33….and no I don’t want to contribute to his funeral

    • Paul Little

      He’s not racist. It’s the truth. You can protest and be civilized. You can raise your family with dignity, what are these kids doing out at night? Don’t they have job, church, college or sports. Or you know their doggone families to be with? It’s cause and effect. The effect is burning down buildings, the cause is seriously bad parenting. Soldier don’t start wars, politicians do, they just carry out the decisions. Same with police, they don’t write the law or govern your towns, they just enforce it.

  • is what it is

    Lsg, I’m not here to cause trouble, I’m just stating the facts, bro, truth hurts do it. If you don’t like the truth, do something about it, instead of being a blm (roll my eyes) sympathizer

  • ActaNonVerbaTX

    Rioting, unprotected sex, Crack dealing and heart disease is all they’re good at. Useless matter…

  • Tina M. Vifquain

    Black Lives Martyrs ” Self ” for Black Life Agenda !!! Racist Hate !!!
    Responsibility Matters for All Lives !!! Responsibility Matters !!!

  • Jon Landon

    Finnaly a Black guy that understand this. I know the Owner of that Gas station. and I know many other gas station owners in the state. Other then that no comment

  • Laura

    If he’s a smart business owner he will collect his insurance money and not rebuild. Let them have the ghetto one less gas station for them to rob or steal gas from. Amazes me, they wonder why Americans buy more guns this is why, when they come looting to my house they are gonna get shot dead not in the leg.

  • Angry

    I hope none of these stores reopen…… I bet the welfare office didn’t get touched and I bet no one looted a pair of work boots…..

Comments are closed.