‘Big (expletive) guns:’ Jury convicts man charged in triple shooting that preceded fatal crash

Cashmeir Armstrong

MILWAUKEE — A young man charged in connection with a triple shooting that unfolded near 36th and Courtland in Milwaukee on April 18 was convicted by a jury on Monday, Oct. 7.

Cashmeir Armstrong, 19, was acquitted on one count — first-degree recklessly endangering safety, as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon, and convicted on two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon.

Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 15.

According to the criminal complaint, officers were called to the area near 36th and Courtland on April 18 “for a ShotSpotter report of 10 gunshots.”

“I just really heard the shots — about five to six shots maybe,” said Ron Herron, neighbor.

When police arrived on the scene, officers “recovered nine 9mm fired cartridge casings, one .40 caliber cartridge casing, and one bullet fragment.” Their investigation determined three victims had been shot —  a 13-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, and a 16-year-old girl. One person suffered a gunshot wound to an arm, a second to the foot and hand, and a third victim suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh and arm.

“The next thing I know, it was taped off down there,” said Herron.

Triple shooting near 36th and Courtland in Milwaukee

Police interviewed one witness to the shooting. That person stated “she observed a series of arguments between seven boys and girls about a girl that had been ‘jumped.'” The witness told police she saw a black car pull up in front of the residence near 36th and Courtland — and that “an African-American male in a black hoodie pointed a firearm in the direction of the building and began firing multiple times.” The witness indicated “she then saw a person from the building shoot back at the vehicle, only after the person in the vehicle fired at the crowd of people.”

Triple shooting near 36th and Courtland in Milwaukee

Triple shooting near 36th and Courtland in Milwaukee

A second witness identified Armstrong as the suspect in this case from a photo array. She said she was in the vehicle that Armstrong was in and she “observed the defendant in possession of ‘two big (expletive) guns.'” This witness told police “she saw an unknown male with a firearm who shot, and then saw (Armstrong) start shooting.”

The complaint said the driver of the vehicle Armstrong was in “later fled from police and was involved in a fatal crash” near 40th and North Avenue.

Fatal crash near 40th and North on April 18

Marcellus Purifoy

Marcellus Purifoy

Marcellus Purifoy, 18, pleaded guilty in July to two charges filed in connection with the crash — operator flee/elude officer, causing death, and operator flee/elude officer, causing bodily harm or property damage. Sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 17.

According to a criminal complaint, officers were conducting a sweep of known offenders committing violent offenses in Milwaukee, and during the sweep, officers learned of the triple shooting near 36th and Courtland. The officers learned one of the individuals that was a subject in their sweep had GPS monitoring that showed that person was at the scene around the time the shooting occurred. A search began for that person.

An MPD sergeant soon spotted a blue Hyundai Accent headed northbound on 44th Street at a high rate of speed — disregarding a stop sign near 44th and North, turning east onto North Avenue. The sergeant activated his lights and sirens and saw that the Hyundai began to weave through traffic before reaching Sherman Boulevard, where it turned south and sped away.

The complaint said the Hyundai reached speeds of approximately 60 miles per hour through traffic on Sherman, turning southwest on Lisbon — where it swerved back and forth. It turned east on Brown Street and then north on 40th — which is a one-way street for southbound traffic. The Hyundai was traveling the wrong way — increasing its speed to 65 to 75 miles per hour as it traveled in the wrong direction.

According to the complaint, the vehicle did not appear to be slowing down as it approached 40th and North. The sergeant indicated if traffic was heavier on North Avenue, he planned to terminate the pursuit if the Hyundai did not stop at the intersection. The Hyundai sped through the intersection and was struck by a yellow school bus (containing one victim, a juvenile, who suffered a dislocated left elbow). The Hyundai was struck on the driver’s side, and whipped around, striking a truck (containing one person who suffered a laceration to his forehead and pain to his left hip). The Hyundai suffered severe damage.

Another officer said during the pursuit, the Hyundai was recklessly swerving around vehicles and operating in the bicycle lane, kicking up dust. This officer stated he never observed brake lights on the Hyundai.

Crash at 40th and North after pursuit

There were four people in the Hyundai. The complaint said Marcellus Purifoy was the driver. He was found unconscious at the scene. The front passenger also appeared unconscious. The rear driver’s side passenger was unconscious and slumped over. He was pulled out of the vehicle, and determined to be Larenzo Jones. The 18-year-old later died as a result of his injuries, according to the medical examiner. The complaint said Jones suffered severe head trauma from blunt force trauma as a result of the crash.

According to the complaint, Purifoy admitting he was driving the Hyundai. He said before the crash, he had driven the Hyundai to a location at which one of the occupants of the vehicle had shot out of the vehicle. He said after the shooting, he drove south on 36th Street for a few blocks, at which point the shooter exited the vehicle — leaving Purifoy inside with his three passengers. Purifoy said he then took off from the scene, but claimed he had no idea the police were after him. He said he did see police vehicles coming toward him, but he kept going and didn’t remember which route he took.

Crash at 40th and North after pursuit

The complaint said Purifoy has never had a driver’s license, and his license status was revoked in November 2017 due to his commission of a felony using a vehicle at the juvenile court level. That revocation was in effect at the time of the crash.

Marcellus Purifoy

Prosecutors said Purifoy was involved in a high-profile incident caught on camera at Bay View High School three years before this.

“I went to that class that day and I had a run-in with Marcellus Purifoy,” said Jasmine Pennix, former MPS teacher’s aide. “MPS failed him, juvenile court systems, they failed him.”

Jasmine Pennix lost his job with MPS and was convicted of misdemeanor battery. The teacher’s aide filed a civil suit and claimed the 14-year-old student involved plotted the whole thing.

Back in 2016, FOX6 News uncovered juvenile court records indicating Purifoy had a criminal past, and months before the fight at Bay View High School, he was accused of attacking a man in Milwaukee with a group of teens.

As for the shooting near 36th and Courtland, police on April 24 announced the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office charged a 14-year-old boy with four counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a child. Three teens were hurt — but Milwaukee police said there was another individual who was present, accounting for the fourth recklessly endangering safety charge.

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