11/02/2007

Wisc. police vehicle the target of gunfire; 2 officers wounded

By JOHN DOBBERSTEIN and JESSE GARZA

MILWAUKEE, Wis. —Two Milwaukee police officers were shot along with three other people Tuesday night within blocks of each other on the near south side, a police official said.

The injuries to the officers were not life-threatening, but two of the other three wounded were in critical condition late Tuesday, police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said.

The officers were taken to Froedtert Hospital, but their conditions were not available late Tuesday.

"We just need the prayers of this community for these officers," Schwartz said while addressing the media near the shooting scene.

Two suspects were in custody after the shootings, which took place about 7:30 p.m. near S. 14th St. and W. Greenfield Ave. and S. 12th and W. Madison streets.

According to Schwartz, officers with the vice control division were conducting a drug investigation near S. 14th and W. Greenfield and heard shots fired. The officers called for backup, and vice control and intelligence officers responded.

Three of the intelligence officers approaching the area in a squad car were fired upon, and a 31-year-old officer with 10 years' experience and a 26-year-old with eight years' experience were struck.

Police returned fire, striking a 15-year-old male suspect. The teenager, whose condition was unavailable late Tuesday, and a 24-year-old male were taken into custody.

Police recovered drugs and two semi-automatic handguns from the shooting suspects, Schwartz said.

The shootings on 12th and Madison took place just before the officers were shot, and police were trying to determine late Tuesday whether the events were related.

Two males, one 15, the other 16, were wounded in that shooting, and both were reported in critical condition late Tuesday, Schwartz said.

The neighborhood where the officers were shot is a mix of homes, bars, restaurants and small grocery stores. Residents poured out from their homes and stood in clusters near the street corners as waves of marked and unmarked patrol cars, SUVs and police on motorcycles flooded the area.

Joann Balle, who lives in the neighborhood near the W. Greenfield Ave. shooting, said she heard three shots as the episode unfolded but didn't witness the shooting. She said residents have been trying to get the neighborhood cleaned up, but the shootings were a setback.

"If there were kids crossing the street out here, they could get killed any day and it's terrible," Balle said.

Copyright 2007 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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