MILWAUKEE, June 20 (AP): At least six teenagers were shot on Monday afternoon around where Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebration had just wrapped up, according to police and fire officials.
The shooting happened about 4:20 p.m. outside Greater Philadelphia Church of God in Christ, according to witnesses and a Facebook Live video taken by a bystander in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, according to local media outlets.
Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said six teens were shot, including a 17-year-old who may have been a gunman himself and is in custody. Police were still seeking additional suspects who hadn’t yet been identified.
Police said the victims, four girls and two boys, ranged in age from 14-19.
Norman said the shooting may have stemmed from a fight among a number of girls and young women, but he didn’t know what sparked the dispute. The injuries of those wounded varied but did not appear life-threatening, the chief said.
“Milwaukee, what’s going on with our children?” Norman wondered aloud at a news conference. He noted that he has taken part in the city’s Juneteenth celebrations for eight years without any such bloody aftermath.
“Parents, guardians, elders, we need to engage in ensuring that this violence that our children are bringing these streets ceases. No handgun, no weapons of destruction, should be in the hands of our young ones.”
“This is a story that plays out too often, and it’s getting really old. Really old,” Norman said.
The violence followed a bloody weekend of shootings across the United States.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson stressed that Monday’s Juneteenth observance itself was a safe and growing event, calling the subsequent violence “totally, totally unacceptable.”
“We had thousands and thousands of people here celebrating and bringing themselves together and having a sense of community. That’s a powerful thing. That’s the true story about what this day is,” said Johnson, a Democrat.
A man who identified himself as T. Jenkins told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a fight between two women preceded the shooting. A young man pulled out a gun and everyone scattered, Jenkins said. The man did some of the shooting, he said.
Jenkins provided aid to a young woman with a neck wound. There was blood coming out of the left side of her neck, he said. “I applied pressure to her neck,” he said. “I tried to keep everyone calm around me.”
A Facebook Live video taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting shows at least two young people with gunshot wounds being treated by paramedics on the pavement.
The person who filmed the Facebook Live said in the video that a teenage girl or young woman had suffered a gunshot wound to the neck. The Facebook user tried to comfort her sobbing friend, who was trying to contact her mother. Only about 20 minutes after the festival had officially ended, hundreds of people were still walking along the street.
Thousands of people packed King Drive for the festival, which ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors selling food and wares lined the street along with community organizations offering resources, snacks and free giveaways.
Music thumped from booths and food trucks offering refreshing treats in the heat drew long lines. Youth dance groups, marching bands and drill teams entertained crowds in a parade along King Drive earlier in the day. Police officers were stationed in several places along the route.
Keith Caldwell, another vendor, described the scene this way: “I just heard commotion, gunshots, people screaming.”
On security at the event, Caldwell talked of the need for gun control.
“Right now, it’s like an uncontrollable situation,” he said.