WAUWATOSA, Wis. - Three officers who responded to the shooting that injured eight at Mayfair Mall on Nov. 20 spoke exclusively with FOX6 News Monday, Dec. 7 about the chaos and challenges after prosecutors say a 15-year-old sparked panic in Wauwatosa.
"It was an 'all hands on deck' kind of call," said Sgt. Abby Pavlik. "We had some people on vacation that were headed up deer hunting. They turned their car around and came back to assist, as well."
Lt. Shane Wrucke, Sgt. Cory Wex, Sgt. Abby Pavlik
Sgt. Pavlik and Sgt. Cory Wex were at the nearby police station when it happened, rushing to the scene.
"My role there was to coordinate our tactical unit," said Sgt. Wex.
"First thought is to render aid and find that suspect," said Sgt. Pavlik.
"You’re making it safe, but you’re also looking for that suspect," said Sgt. Wex.
Lt. Shane Wrucke is the team commander for the department’s special response team.
"I was at home," said Lt. Wrucke. "I was off on vacation that day. Once the chaos of the scene is done and victims have been transported out, we need to make sure that entire mall is safe."
Lt. Wrucke described how the massive mall was secured in a methodical way.
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," said Lt. Wrucke. "You have to pick a spot to start."
Tactical teams helped those hiding in fear.
"A lot of people were calling 911 and saying, 'There’s eight of us and we’re in this store,'" said Lt. Wrucke. "That information would get relayed to us.”
It was a challenge to comb through every single store.
“I would bet we had upwards of 80 tactical officers that were working on that at one time," said Lt. Wrucke.
It was a day of high-stress and mayhem, where training and calm kicked in.
"Eight people got shot," said Wrucke. "No one died as a result of their injuries. That’s a testament to our officers being there soon."
"It’s a safe place," said Sgt. Wex. "The police department is there working hand in hand with mall security."
According to court documents, the 15-year-old suspect was with a friend at the mall when they saw a group of four going down an escalator. The friend approached the group and punched one of them. Soon after, the teen suspect pulled out a gun and started firing -- hitting three people from the group, his friend and four innocent bystanders.
The 15-year-old is facing eight charges of first-degree reckless injury -- use of a dangerous weapon. He also faces one charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by someone under 18.
The suspect had an open probation case at the time of the shooting, too.
Prosecutors want him tried in adult court while his attorneys are working to have the case tried in juvenile court. The judge decided to hear more on the defense’s request in mid-January with an in-person hearing on the matter Feb. 16, all while the 15-year-old spends time in juvenile detention.