MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn revealed on Friday, March 24th how authorities tracked down and arrested the five men suspected in the fatal shooting of a popular city employee. The victim is 64-year-old Greg Zyszkiewicz, who officials say was a beloved code enforcement specialist known to many as "Ziggy."
Zyszkiewicz was gunned down in broad daylight Wednesday, March 22nd. New information released in a news conference held by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn on Friday, March 24th revealed Zyszkiewicz was the target of an attempted carjacking and was killed with a shotgun.
"It is with solemn pride that I am here to announce that yesterday Milwaukee police arrested five individuals in connection with activities that can be linked directly to this crime," Barrett said.
Milwaukee police confirmed the murder was part of a crime spree carried out by five men. Their ages range between 16 and 21.
"They were looking to commit more crimes and it was intentional so far as the fact they were driving around, looking for other victims," said Flynn.
Sources tell FOX6 News a group of teens came up to carjack Zyszkiewicz near 23rd and Cherry, when one of the suspects fired a long-barreled gun, killing Zyszkiewicz. The suspects then took off.
"This is still a personal nightmare for Ziggy's family. It's still a personal nightmare for the city family and for all people in this community who want this to be a better city," Barrett said.
According to police, the five suspects were arrested within hours of the shooting.
"This sequence of events was extremely dynamic," said Flynn.
Police chased a Toyota Venza used in an armed robbery carjacking earlier in the day, to 27th and Hope where it crashed. There, a 16-year-old male and 17-year-old male were taken into custody.
Next, police chased a stolen Kia Soul to 18th and Nash where it crashed, and suspects fled on foot. Three males, ages 17, 19 and 21, were taken into custody.
The second crash involved a vehicle taken earlier in the day, along with a key details that stood out to investigators.
"Only a couple hours before, a shotgun had been used in a carjacking and the second car had been a stolen car," said Flynn.
Chief Flynn says evidence indicates a shotgun was used to kill Zyszkiewicz. Police sources tell FOX6 News a 17-year-old is the one who pulled the trigger. His juvenile record includes an arrest for strong arm robbery in which the victim was beaten.
Alderman Bob Donovan says the backgrounds of the suspects are the latest example of a juvenile justice system in need of reform.
"We’ve got a failed juvenile justice system," Donovan said, "That’s simply the reality and every one of us, every citizen across Milwaukee, is fed up."
Donovan said one necessary solution is a juvenile detention facility in the Milwaukee area where offenders can get treatment while being locked away from the public.
"They need to get the help, or the education, or skills, so that when they do get out, they can become productive citizens," Donovan said, "But first and foremost, we need to get them away from the individuals they’re taking advantage of and hurting."
Flynn, who has questioned the handling of past juvenile cases, declined to address the issue on Friday.
"I think there's a time there's a time and a place for examining the status of the prior arrests and the rest of the system's previous work. Right now, I think it's really important we focus on this case and on the fact we still have a family grieving," said Flynn.
What we know about the suspects
Chief Flynn says all five suspects arrested in connection to the case have been in trouble with the law before.
Suspect #1 is a 16-year-old male. He was arrested for operating an automobile without the owners consent in this case. He was turned over to the children's center. Police say he has previously been arrested for armed robbery and motor vehicle theft.
Suspect #2 is a 17-year-old male. He was arrested for homicide, attempted armed robbery and carjacking in this case. He remains in custody. He has previously been arrested for robbery and assault and battery.
Suspect #3 is a 17-year-old male. He was arrested for homicide, attempted armed robbery, and carjacking in this case. He remains in custody. He has previously been arrested for possession of dangerous weapon and motor vehicle theft.
Suspect #4 is a 19-year-old male. He was arrested for operating an automobile without the owners consent in this case. He remains in custody. He has previously been arrested for obstructing and motor vehicle theft, and he has an open warrant for resisting and obstructing.
Suspect #5 is a 21-year-old male. He was arrested for homicide, attempted armed robbery and carjacking in this case. He remains in custody. He has previously been arrested for weapons laws violations, theft from vehicles, and drugs. He also has two open cases in the Milwaukee County judicial system including a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, bail jumping, theft, resisting an officer and bail jumping.
"We believe based on what we've assembled so far we're going to be able to build a very strong case," said Flynn. "But this investigation is by no means over."
A fund has been established at US Bank in Zyszkiewicz's honor. Donations can be made at any US Bank location.
Police say they're looking into whether the five suspects are responsible for other previous crimes. In the case of Wednesday's homicide and carjackings, Flynn says charges could be referred to prosecutors as soon as late Friday or over the weekend.