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‘This is an asset to the community:’ Neighbors speak out at forum after double homicide at Swing Park

MILWAUKEE -- A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday evening, Aug. 22 to discuss ways to improve safety near the Swing Park on Water Street in Milwaukee.

Two people were killed in a shooting there on Aug. 6.

The meeting took place at Casablanca on Brady Street. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderman Nik Kovac, District 1 Police Captain Diana Rowe, representatives from the Department of Public Works and others took part.

At issue was after-hours activity at Swing Park.

The double fatal shooting at Swing Park near Brady and Water was one of four homicides to take place on Aug. 6. During the meeting, we learned it began with a shootout on the Marsupial Bridge, with the 22-year-old and 17-year-old victims collapsing and dying at the park below.

Known for its re-purposed tire swings, the park under the Holton Street Bridge is often a popular hangout for families during the day. Even though the signs indicate the park closes at 10 p.m., that doesn't stop people from gathering at the park and getting into trouble at all hours of the night.

"I can tell you firsthand, people who are there after dark are not coming to swing at midnight," said a neighbor whose window faces the park.

Police said they increased patrols beginning in April. A grant in July allowed for foot patrols in the park. Officials said police were in the park the night before the shooting, but not the night of.

"Once it gets dark, people want it to be quiet, want to go to sleep and don't want this to be an issue," a neighbor said.

Alderman Nik Kovac

Alderman Kovac called the community forum to address concerns. Some suggested fencing, or stricter hours of operation.

"There are people I know who are actually concerned about our home rates going down. Not just because of the homicides, but because of the increase in crimes over the last two or three years," a neighbor said.

"This is an asset to the neighborhood and the city, and we need to preserve it in a positive way," a neighbor said.

Cameras have also been added in the area, and soon, police said new software will alert them to activity after 10 p.m., so officers no longer have to constantly monitor the cameras.

During the meeting, Mayor Barrett noted year-to-date, there have been 76 homicides, vs. 77 year-to-date in 2017, and 87 year-to-date in 2017.  As for non-fatal shootings, there have been 320 year-to-date in 2018, vs. 376 year-to-date in 2017 and 351 year-to-date in 2016.

Double fatal shooting at Swing Park

Hours after the double fatal shooting, FOX6 News spoke with Katie Chamberlain, who lives at the River House Apartments next door. She said after sunset, things often get out of hand.

"My roommate and I have called the police several times before," said Katie Chamberlain.

That's why Chamberlain and Lindsey Harmsen weren't surprised when they heard six to eight gunshots outside their window on Aug. 6.

FOX6 spoke with a 26-year-old Milwaukee woman who didn't want to be identified, who said she and her two children were walking with her 22-year-old boyfriend around 11 p.m. when a group of seven or so guys began taunting them.

"They started shooting at us, so my boyfriend, in protection, he's protecting me, my kids and himself, he starts shooting back at them," she said.

She said during the shootout, her boyfriend was hit under the arm. She performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but he died at the scene.

"It hurts me so much. I just don't know what to do without him," she said.

"I immediately saw what looked like the significant other screaming and starting CPR on her loved one, with a young child standing next to an adult," said Chamberlain.

Will Davis

Milwaukee police say a 22-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy were fatally shot during a confrontation between two groups of people. Relatives declined to identify the man, but said he was a father to a 3-year-old girl.

Family and friends identified the 17-year-old as Will Davis. His former classmates stopped by the scene Tuesday to pay their respects to the would-be Brookfield East High School senior.

"That was like my little brother. Every time you see him, he was smiling," said Antoinette Williams, victim's friend.

"He don't do violence. It just hurts so bad because we never knew that it would come down to this, for him to die to gun violence," said Ariana Thompson, victim's friend.

"Clearly something more drastic needs to happen," said Chamberlain after the shooting.

Police are still investigating a motive.