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Prosecutors: Driver in fatal crash at 13th and Morgan was ringleader in armed robbery the day before

Robert Matagi

MILWAUKEE -- FOX6 News on Tuesday, April 16 learned much more about Robert Matagi -- the young man prosecutors say was the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a young father as a deputy pursued that vehicle. According to prosecutors, the day before that crash, Matagi was the ringleader in a brutal armed robbery in La Crosse. Additionally, we learned of charges filed against a woman prosecutors said was a passenger in the vehicle driven by Matagi when the crash happened.

Matagi, 18, of Franksville, was in court for his initial appearance on Tuesday. Cash bond was set at $250,000. A preliminary hearing was set for April 25.

Matagi faces the following criminal charges:

  • Second degree reckless homicide
  • Vehicle operator flee/elude officer resulting in the death of another
  • Hit and run – resulting in death

Crash near 13th and Morgan credit Stephanie Routt

Crash near 13th and Morgan courtesy: Christian Veras

Fatal crash at 13th and Morgan -- Robert Matagi

Prosecutors said it was around 5 p.m. Thursday when a deputy spotted a red vehicle headed south on I-43 near Lapham, "driving recklessly at a high speed and using the distress lane to pass other vehicles.” The vehicle exited at Holt Avenue and at 13th and Morgan, the driver disregarded a red light and slammed into a vehicle driven by 25-year-old Pedro Colon. The suspect vehicle hit two other vehicles as well. Prosecutors said Matagi jumped out of the vehicle and ran. A deputy caught up with him a short while later, and he was arrested. Data from the airbag control module indicated the vehicle was traveling at 85 miles per hour in the 30 miles per hour zone.

According to prosecutors, Matagi wrote an apology letter after the crash: “I had a gun and some marijuana in the car with no license and I was scared to go to jail and be stranded in Milwaukee so I sped up."

Pedro Colon-Ortiz

Pedro Colon left behind a 1-year-old son.

Charges against woman prosecutors say was a passenger in Matagi's vehicle

A woman prosecutors said was a passenger in the vehicle driven by Matagi on April 11 is facing charges of her own. Prosecutors said she hid Matagi's gun in a trash can in a gas station restroom moments after the crash.

Makayla House

Makayla House

Makayla House, 20, of Arcadia, faces one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

Prosecutors said at the scene of the crash near 13th and Morgan, a deputy was approached by a citizen who revealed "a short female with a light complexion exited the suspected fleeing vehicle and walked into the Himalayan Gas Station." Deputies entered the gas station in an attempt to locate that individual. One deputy saw that the bathroom light was on, and attempted to make contact with the occupant. After knocking a second time, the door opened, and the deputy made contact with House -- whose "hand was near the garbage can in the bathroom." When the deputy asked whether she was concealing anything, she "answered that she was." She then advised that she had concealed a firearm in the trash can -- and admitted she was the front seat passenger in the fleeing vehicle. She said after the crash, Robert Matagi "handed her the firearm and told her to hide it."

She was taken into custody, and a revolver was recovered from the garbage can.

House was interviewed, and the complaint said she advised that Matagi was driving the fleeing vehicle. She identified a third person who was in the rear middle seat. She said Matagi "drove in the emergency lane of the freeway and was driving a little fast when he saw the marked squad," which caught up quickly with its emergency lights activated and chased them on the freeway for approximately one minute before they took an exit ramp. House said they drove for approximately one more minute before crashing.

She said after they crashed, she opened her eyes and Matagi was gone. She said she and the rear passenger exited the vehicle and a deputy yelled, "Don't move!" She said she sat down on the curb, and the deputy ran off, presumably to chase Matagi. House said Matagi's revolver was in the center console, and she removed it from the vehicle -- wrapping it in Matagi's jacket. She then walked to the gas station and placed it in the trash can in the bathroom, along with Matagi's jacket and her e-cigarette. She said a deputy then knocked on the door, and she was arrested.

As of Tuesday afternoon, April 16, online court records did not list an initial appearance date for House.

Armed robbery in La Crosse one day before fatal crash in Milwaukee

Drew Sargeant-Conner

Drew Sargeant-Conner

Prosecutors said one day before the crash, Matagi and two others, including the individual who was in the back seat of the vehicle during the crash at 13th and Morgan were involved in an armed robbery. According to prosecutors, Matagi pistol whipped one of the victims.

Charges were filed Monday, April 15 -- the same day charges were filed in connection with the crash at 13th and Morgan in Milwaukee. Matagi, along with Drew Sargeant-Conner, 19, of Chippewa Falls and Diamond Allen, 19, of La Crosse were each charged with one count of armed robbery, as party to a crime.

According to a criminal complaint, just before 5 p.m. on April 10, La Crosse police were called out to the area near Rose Street and Sill Street in La Crosse for a report of a robbery. It was learned an apartment had been broken into and a child was bleeding. The tenant was crying, and told police she went to the kitchen to make food when she heard a knock on the door, and asked her boyfriend whether he was expecting anyone. Before he could answer, the front door was kicked in and "four black subjects -- two males and two females" entered the apartment.

She identified one suspect as Matagi -- and said he "pointed a gun at her and told her to get on the kitchen floor. She said Matagi ordered one of the other suspects, later identified as Diamond Allen to "watch" the tenant, and Matagi went to the bedroom where the tenant's boyfriend was. The tenant advised Matagi had a "silver handgun." She said two other suspects joined Matagi in the bedroom, and one suspect, identified as Drew Sargeant-Conner came out holding a baseball bat -- "pacing back and forth and standing guard" over the tenant. After about five minutes, all four suspects left. The tenant said her iPhone and wallet were taken -- with her wallet containing cash, a debit card, her license, her social security card and other items.

She noted that she knew three of the suspects -- Matagi, Sergeant-Conner and Allen. She offered a description of the fourth suspect.

The complaint said during the robbery, the tenant's boyfriend was pistol whipped, and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. He said he briefly lost consciousness when he was struck by the firearm.

Fatal crash at 13th and Morgan -- Robert Matagi

According to the complaint, after the incident, the tenant's boyfriend attempted to make contact with Matagi through Facebook Messenger, and he later received a voicemail message from Matagi, in which Matagi stated, "I'm just glad you're not dead. Now leave me the (expletive) alone."

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