MILWAUKEE -- What is left of the BP gas station in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood is now being torn down.
The gas station 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.
Nearly a week after the chaos, the gas station's owner, Pakhar Singh, looked on at what's left of his business. He opened up about losing nearly everything.
"In the Sherman Park area, I've been there 10 years," Singh said. "The whole neighborhood is just like my own family. We really love each other. I know all the neighborhood, block by block, each side. They are all sad."
Singh struggled to find the right words but his attorney, Vincent Bobot, was at his side, expressing his frustrations.
"I think he's still in kind of a... it hasn't sunk in it yet," Bobot said.
Bobot went on to read a statement from the family. It was filled with both grief over their loss, and gratitude for the neighborhood and police.
"Watching the neighborhood we love and the business we have worked had to build, go up in flames, was heartbreaking," Bobot read. "In the midst of the all the destruction and damage, many people came here to help and check on us."
For now, Singh's family is unsure if they'll rebuild at the same spot, if they decide to rebuild at all. The total cost is still being figured out.
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 BP gas station, the following locations were set on fire:
- O’Reilly Auto Parts at 3405 West Fond du Lac Avenue
- 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.