03/25/2007

Outpouring of citizens help Wisc. police catch suspects

"The lieutenant on the scene said he hadn't seen that amount of cooperation in years."

By GEORGIA PABST, Staff
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin) 
 
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. - An off-duty Milwaukee County sheriff's detective is credited with chasing down and arresting a 16-year-old boy suspected in the fatal shooting of a Waukesha man at a gas station at 4302 W. Capitol Drive Wednesday afternoon.

But Milwaukee police said it wasn't just Milwaukee County sheriff's Detective Daniel Carter, a 14-year veteran of that office, who went out of his way to assist in the case.

On Thursday, police praised the "great citizen cooperation" of numerous witnesses who helped, including two youths who stayed with victim Scott Huggins until emergency medical personnel arrived and others who gave police information that helped them arrest two other teens who are being questioned in connection with the shooting.

"The lieutenant on the scene said he hadn't seen that amount of cooperation in years," said Deputy Chief Brian O'Keefe. "These citizens really stepped up and helped police. Maybe people are just fed up."

The 3 p.m. slaying at a busy intersection shocked the Sherman Park neighborhood, said Steve O'Connell, president of the Sherman Park Community Association. It was discussed at the regularly scheduled meeting of neighborhood pastors Thursday, he said.

"It's difficult to face this type of tragedy in our community because basically four lives have been lost - the victim and the three who will probably face life in prison," O'Connell said.

"But it's good to realize that young people stayed and that others stepped up to help police. I think the community itself is starting to reject this kind of behavior and getting more involved."

Mayor Tom Barrett issued a statement thanking residents for their cooperation. He said Huggins' shooting underscores the need to get illegal guns off the street, and especially out of the hands of young people.

The 16-year-old is scheduled to appear in Children's Court today. It was unclear Thursday if or when another 16-year-old and a 17-year-old who were also being questioned would face charges.

According to police, Huggins had just paid for some gasoline and was returning to his white Jeep when he encountered the 16-year-old. It's not clear exactly what led to multiple shots being fired at Huggins, said Anne E. Schwartz, the department spokeswoman.

A spokesman for the Huggins family in Waukesha expressed anger over the violent, random death.

"Oh, God. It's senseless," said sister-in-law Lynn Wren. "It's such a loss."

Kim Brooks, public information officer for the sheriff's office, said Carter, a member of the SWAT team, was off duty and driving by the Citgo station with his girlfriend when he heard shots. He stopped, saw that someone had been shot and told people there to call 911, she said.

"Out of the corner of his eyes he said he saw the suspect running and followed him," she said. He told his girlfriend to call the Milwaukee police and pursued the suspected shooter on foot for several blocks through several yards before he took the teen into custody. The suspect did not resist, she said.

Carter was attending a funeral Thursday and not available for comment, said Brooks.

"Detective Carter instinctively took action . . . and placed the community's security needs before his own," said Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. Huggins, who worked as an electrician, and his wife, Debra, had been married for nearly 20 years. They had four children and a number of grandchildren.

He volunteered as a boxing coach at Medina's Boxing Gym, a Waukesha gym where he helped kids stay out of trouble by helping them hone their boxing skills, according to friends.

"He was a perfect example of what I would want to be myself," said Oscar Medina, the club's owner. "The guy was just full of life."

According to city records, the Hugginses owned a house in the 2900 block of N. 46th St., not far from the Citgo station, and had run into some problems with it last year. It was not clear Thursday whether Huggins was in the area tending to the property.

Assistant City Attorney Adam Stephens said the city had declared the property a public nuisance after police discovered four kilograms of cocaine and four guns inside the house in February 2006.

A tenant was arrested and is now in prison, he said.

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Scott Williams of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007, Journal Sentinel Inc. 

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