‘Sad state of affairs:’ Alderman says city sanitation workers were ‘dodging real bullets’ near 19th and Locust

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan urged city employees to be careful after sanitation workers had a "close call with gunfire" near 19th and Locust on Tuesday morning, March 5.

It was just after 9 a.m., when bullets hit the city worker's truck.

"I came over and next thing I know it was like, 'A garbage man got shot at,'" said Travis Birkley, who lives nearby. "I'm going to do a good deed right now, and then have to get shot at?! That's a big thing for me."

Birkley was outside, on the way to go shovel snow for a neighbor on Tuesday. He said the incident made him concerned about his safety.

"It's sad to say, but they shouldn't have to have a camera or a police on each and every inner block. That shouldn't have to happen," Birkley said.

Travis Birkley

Fortunately, the workers weren't hit by gunfire, but the cab portion of their vehicle was struck.

"We've had some very dangerous situations for city employees, and sadly, in the last couple years now, we've had five city employees lose their lives in the line of duty," said Alderman Donovan.

Alderman Donovan said this stint of recklessness made him angry.

Bob Donovan

"I don't blame the chief. I don't blame our police officers," Donovan said. "What I do blame is our city fathers who can't seem to get a grip on this issue."

He said a harder line needs to be taken by city leaders so people like Birkley can go outside their home and be safe.

"The status quo is unacceptable," Donovan said.

"It's just sad that somebody has to come and rush their garbage out, or can't go play with their kids because people are shooting and going crazy like that," said Birkley.

Alderman Donovan issued the following statement about this incident:

"Thank God no one was struck by the gunfire, which I’m told entered the cab portion of the garbage truck. Milwaukee Police are investigating the incident but there are few details available at this time.

Whether directed at them or just random gunfire from the neighborhood, it is a sad state of affairs when city workers just trying to do their jobs in broad daylight are dodging real bullets!

I ask that all city workers out in the field in Milwaukee be aware of their surroundings at all times and report anything suspicious to police."

The Milwaukee Department of Public Works released the following statement on the incident:

"This morning’s incident was alarming and we are grateful no one was hurt. The safety of our city workers is of the utmost concern. The Department of Public Works is cooperating with the Milwaukee Police Department to investigate this morning’s incident and we urge anyone with information on this incident to contact MPD."

Milwaukee police were investigating. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact them at 414-935-7360.

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