MILWAUKEE -- What is left of the O'Reilly Auto Parts store in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood is now being torn down -- with ATF investigators supervising the demolition on Thursday, August 18th. The demolition gave investigators a clearer picture of the extent of the damage inside.
The auto parts store was one of more than a half-dozen businesses that were set on fire in the wake of the officer-involved fatal shooting of Sylville Smith on Saturday, August 13th. The shooting prompted several nights of unrest in the city.
Lakisha Wade watched the demolition on Thursday from her front porch.
"It`s just crazy to me. I`m still in shock. We use that a lot over here for cars," Wade said.
Wade grew up across the street from the O'Reilly Auto Parts. Now, all that remains is rubble and dust.
"I mean, jobs are lost, families without jobs. They're suffering. There's no telling how long it will take to rebuild the business," Wade said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett met with ATF agents to view the damage. He said he has been in contact with the owners of the property and the business.
"I told them the city would love to work with them. We would love to have them rebuild," Barrett said.
Sherman Park residents are adamant. They say the actions of a few should not be reflective of the attitude of the neighborhood.
"We gonna bounce back. I'm sure we are. But need to come together to rebuild our community," Wade said.
The ATF is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for any of several commercial fires set during the overnight hours of August 13th and August 14th in Milwaukee.
In addition to the auto parts store, the following locations were set on fire:
- BP Gas Station at 3114 North Sherman Boulevard
- BMO Harris Bank at 3536 West Fond du Lac Avenue
- Jet Beauty Supply at 3501 West Burleigh Street
- PJ’s Supermarket at 3079 North 21st Street
- MJM Liquor Store at 2229 West Fond du Lac Avenue
- A to Z Wholesale Liquor at 2233 West Fond du Lac Avenue
- Big Jim’s Liquor at 2161 West Hopkins Street
Anyone having information about these fires should call the toll-free ATF hotline at 888-ATF-FIRE (888-283-3473). Callers may remain anonymous.