Six north side businesses damaged from fires during unrest after police shooting

Walker activates National Guard

A police car with broken windows is seen in a photograph released by the Milwaukee Police Department after disturbances following the police shooting of a man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 13, 2016. Milwaukee Police/Handout via REUTERS

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:01 pm

Six businesses on the north side of Milwaukee were either destroyed or damaged by fires as violence erupted Saturday night following an officer-involved shooting that left a 23-year-old man dead.

unrest oreilly
The O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 3405 W. Fond du Lac Ave. was one of several businesses damaged or destroyed by fire in the area near a police shooting on Saturday. (Photo from WISN-TV Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.)

The violence near North Sherman Boulevard and West Burleigh Street exploded after a 23-year-old man, Sylville K. Smith, was shot and killed by an officer following a chase after an afternoon traffic stop on the 3200 block of North 44th Street, police said.

On Sunday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said a still photograph from the police officer’s body camera indicated that Smith had a gun in his hand during the chase. The police investigation of the incident indicates Smith’s gun had 23 rounds in it, Barrett said.

The officer who chased and shot Smith is an African American, Police Chief Ed Flynn said. Smith was also African American.

Flynn said Smith has “a lengthy arrest record.”

Gov. Scott Walker on Sunday activated the National Guard, following a request from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

“I have activated the Wisconsin National Guard to be in position to aid local law enforcement upon request,” Walker said. He said 125 guard members will be in place later Sunday. Read more at WISN TV-Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

Barrett said Walker has activated the National Guard, but the Guard will not be deployed unless Flynn thinks it is necessary.

Firefighters responded to fires at a BP gas station in the 3100 block of North Sherman Boulevard, the Jet Beauty Supply store at 3501 W. Burleigh St., an O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 3405 W. Fond du Lac Ave., the BMO Harris Bank branch at 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave., the PJ’s Supermarket building at 3079 n. 21st St. and a liquor store at 22nd Street and Fond Du Lac Avenue. The gas station and O’Reilly Auto Parts store were destroyed, Flynn said. The bank was “heavily damaged,” he said.

A spokesman for BMO Harris Bank released the following statement, referring all other questions to police: “We’re in the process of assessing the damage to our 3536 W. Fond Du Lac (Avenue) branch to determine when it will re-open. Our primary concern is the safety of our employees and customers. We are working closely with local authorities.”

“Last night was unlike anything I have seen in my adult life in this city,” Barrett said. “I hope to never see it again.”

In July an employee at the BP gas station fired warning shots at a group of teens, which prompted protests from demonstrators.

On Sunday Barrett praised the work of the police officers and fire firefighters who responded to the disturbances Saturday night. Barrett said the officers showed “tremendous restraint.” Flynn said there were no reports of officer using force to respond to the unrest. Four officers who injured during the disturbances, but all were released from the hospital, officials said.

As a result of the unrest 17 individuals were arrested, Flynn said. All of them have prior criminal records, he said. The police department reported 48 activations of its shot spotter during the unrest, Flynn said. Seven squad cars were damaged.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of volunteers from the community showed up this morning to help clean up the damage from the unrest last night, Barrett said.

Follow BizTimes Milwaukee media partner WISN-TV Channel 12 for further updates.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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