MILWAUKEE -- Family and friends said their final goodbyes to Tracey Smith on Friday, Sept. 6. Smith is the Milwaukee mother who was fatally shot after a road rage incident near 51st and Capitol on Friday, Aug. 30.
A visitation and funeral for Smith was being held at Calvary Baptist Church in Milwaukee on Friday. Smith will be interred at Graceland Cemetery.
Smith was with her son who was driving near 51st and Capitol last Friday. The son told police as he was making a turn onto Fond du Lac, a gold van that was on the passenger side of his car cut over in front of him to make a left turn from the wrong lane. As a result, there was a collision between the front passenger corner of the Smith vehicle and the driver's side of the gold van.
The complaint says as soon as Smith's son stopped the car, Tracey Smith got out to look at the damage. Smith's son told police his mother was upset and yelling at the driver of the van. The complaint says "the driver of the van then pointed a gun and fired one shot." Tracey Smith stumbled and fell to the ground. Smith later died at a hospital.
On a gray Friday afternoon, Tracey Smith's smile helps brighten the mood for those grieving her loss.
"She had that infectious laugh," said Officer Motney, one of Smith's coworkers. "She was a great source of comic relief, especially in the line of work we're in."
Her longtime coworkers at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility joined her longtime friends to comfort the family as they said goodbye to the woman everyone described as the life of the party.
"My grandkids grew up with her kids," said Ruby Smith, a longtime neighbor. "She would garden, and her garden would be so pretty."
"It will never be the same. It just never will," said Sergeant Regalia, Smith's coworker. "She's sorely missed."
On Wednesday, 35-year-old Matthew Wilks was charged with homicide. He and Smith got into a minor crash at 51st and Fond Du Lac last Friday while she was teaching her teenage son to drive. Smith got out of her car to look at the damage. That's when prosecutors say Wilks pulled out a gun and shot her.
"Everybody's having a very rough time with this," said Sgt. Regalia. "Just a senseless, senseless act."
While senseless, many at the funeral are hoping Smith's death is the wake up call this city needs.
"I think we should all say a prayer tonight regarding our community," said Carl Safford, Smith's cousin. "As you can see by the outpouring of people, they're maybe looking for something to change this attitude in the community, to care about each other and help each other.
Following the funeral, a police motorcade of more than a dozen motorcycles escorted Smith's casket from the church to the cemetery.
The man charged in this case, Matthew Wilks, faces the following criminal counts:
- First degree intentional homicide
- Possession of a firearm by a felon
According to the criminal complaint, Wilks was convicted in Feb. 2008 of the felony offenses possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of cocaine. Those convictions remain on record -- and have not been reversed.
Wilks' bail was set at $110,000. His next court appearance is set for Thursday, Sept. 12.