2 teens on the run, charged in fatal shooting of Purcell Pearson

Charges were filed on Monday, Feb. 22 against two Milwaukee teens suspected in the shooting death of 22-year-old Purcell Pearson. Pearson was fatally shot in broad daylight on Saturday, Feb. 6 near 23rd Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The accused are 17-year-old Tyrell Joseph and 17-year-old Ismael Moreno -- both from Milwaukee. They each face a single charge of first-degree reckless homicide, as a party to a crime. However, they are not in custody -- and warrants have been issued for their arrests.

"We do not know if they are still here locally, or if they may have even left the state," said Lt. Justin Carloni with MPD's Homicide Division. "I would want anybody that knows any information to be brave, and they can remain anonymous."

Police describe Joseph as approximately 5-foot-9, weighing 140 pounds; Moreno is described as approximately 5-foot-7, weighing 123 pounds. 

Purcell Pearson

According to the criminal complaint obtained by FOX6 News Monday, a Milwaukee police officer was driving his squad east on W. Wisconsin Avenue shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 when he "saw a dark-colored minivan speed off from the parking lane on the south side of W. Wisconsin Ave." The officer saw the van then crossed the eastbound lanes and "he saw that a person was hanging onto the driver's door of the van. This person was outside of the van."

When the officer got closer to the intersection of 23rd and Wisconsin, he "heard the sound of a vehicle braking and then a loud 'pop.'" The officer then saw the van continue to travel eastbound in the westbound lanes of W. Wisconsin Avenue. The complaint says that is when the officer saw a person, identified later as Purcell Pearson, "stand up from the street, run about 20 yards, and then collapse in the middle of the street."

Another person ran towards the officer at the scene -- and stated, "That's my brother." The complaint indicates this person also said, "he was selling the glasses and they robbed him and shot him." 

Surveillance video near 23rd and Wisconsin

Officers later interviewed the person who indicated he was Pearson's brother. That person said he and Pearson "have been selling designer glasses for three to four months. They buy the glasses on DHGate and then sell them in Milwaukee." The brother told officers on the morning of Feb. 6, someone identified as "Pablo Fernandez" messaged him with the message, "You still got these" -- referring to Cartier glasses. Shortly after noon, the brother indicated Pearson "came back into the apartment and said that the guy wants the glasses but they were not tight enough. He saw his brother fix the glasses, and then his brother said that he was selling two pairs for $500." Pearson then left the apartment.

The police investigation later determined the profile name "Pablo Fernandez" was tied to a phone number with a 262 area code. Police linked that phone to an adult female. The complaint indicates back in 2019, she identified her son as Tyrell Joseph. The woman was interviewed in 2019 because Joseph had been shot in the leg, the complaint says.

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Milwaukee police recovered surveillance video that shows the van in question -- prior to the shooting incident. They also received video recordings from a poll camera near 27th and Wells -- as well as a restaurant near 22nd and Wisconsin Avenue. 

The complaint indicates two days later, on Feb. 8, police located a van that matched the description of the one involved in the shooting incident. Investigators determined Tyrell Joseph's family lived nearby. When officers spoke with a relative of Joseph, that person identified Joseph from a surveillance photo captured near 27th and Lisbon. That person also identified Ismael Moreno --  as well as the van he said Joseph drives and was found nearby.

If convicted, Joseph and Moreno could face up to 60 years in prison. 

"I would want the public to know that if this was their loved one, or a family member, or a friend, what would they do? Wouldn’t they want these individuals captured and off the streets so they can’t hurt anybody else?" said Lt. Carloni. "This family does not deserve this. Our victim was a very innocent victim. A peaceful capture is what we're looking for, and the public may be able to provide that assistance." 

Pearson's mom, Stephanie Johnson released the following statement to FOX6 News on Monday:

"Nothing will bring my son Purcell back to his family. This was a case of needless violence that has broken so many hearts and hurt his family with unbearable pain. His killers destroyed a promising young man who loved his community and the black community in particular.

"He would have given them the glasses if they asked for them, but he was not going to let them steal from him.

"We ask for justice for Purcell Pearson. We are shocked at the ages of the suspects. We pray for their rehabilitation and we pray for their families to whom they have brought shame and sorrow."

Pearson was a recent graduate of UW-Whitewater, and a beloved student there. He studied psychology, was crowned campus Homecoming King, and served as president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Loved ones held a vigil in Pearson's memory on Feb. 8. 

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrests of the suspects in this case is asked to please contact MPD or Milwaukee Crimestoppers.

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