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Milwaukee officers wound gunman in shootout

By John Dobberstein
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE — Gunfire erupted again on Milwaukee's north side Tuesday, this time between two gang-unit police officers and a gunman, who was shot and killed.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said the unidentified man was walking in the middle of the street at N. 28th and W. Chambers streets just before 4 p.m. when he was stopped by uniformed police and asked for his identification.

"He had his hands in his pockets, they demanded he withdraw his hands from his pockets, and when he did he produced a revolver," Flynn told reporters about an hour after the incident.

The man ignored orders to drop the weapon and he fired at the officers, Flynn said. The two officers returned fire, striking the man. It's unknown how many times the man was hit and how many shots were fired.

Flynn said that officers found unloaded casings in the revolver used by the gunman.

Flynn said the two District 7 officers — ages 27 and 28 — immediately began performing CPR on the unidentified man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The officers were not injured.

The two officers involved will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard for officer-involved shootings, while the incident is investigated by the Police Department and the Milwaukee County district attorney's office.

Flynn said the officers have been on the force for four and three years, respectively.

Police canvassed the neighborhood, and Flynn said some "independent witnesses" were identified whose version of events appears to confirm the officers' accounts.

"What I've learned is that we have courageous officers who want to protect life as well as save it," Flynn said. "They engaged in a situation where they used force, as necessary, and tried to save the life of someone that may have just tried to take theirs."

Police could not say late Tuesday if the gunman was a gang member, and his name was not released.

A violent week

The shooting happened less than a week after a dozen people on the north side were wounded by gunfire in separate incidents in less than five hours Friday night and Saturday. Residents near the crime scene Tuesday said gang activity and shootings are nothing new.

Johnetter Gray was at a house in the 2600 block of W. Chambers St. with her fiance and his 14-year-old son when they heard two gunshots outside, she said. Gray said her fiance and his son walked down the block to see what happened and saw officers flip over the victim as he was lying on the ground and begin lifesaving efforts.

Roosevelt Sanders, who lives near N. 26th and W. Burleigh streets, said gangs have taken over the neighborhood, and relations between residents and police could be better.

He walked near the scene of the shooting Tuesday night with his 16-year-old son Joavon Sanders, a student at Marshall High School.

"The gangs have just gone rampant, and they have been left unchecked. It's chaos. There has to be a different way," Roosevelt Sanders said. "Some taxpayers here want to walk out their door and not have to worry about getting shot at."

"I see someone lost their life over nothing," said his son, Joavon Sanders. "Some people don't like the police and they start shooting at them, and that's wrong."

Copyright 2008 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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