'Gathering souls:' Prosecutors say Milwaukee man killed 1, tried to kill 3 others in 3-hour period

Joevashaun Ward

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man is facing multiple charges after prosecutors say he shot and killed one person and tried to kill three others within a three-hour period on April 11.

Joevashaun Ward, 37, of Milwaukee faces five charges:

    According to a criminal complaint, around 11 a.m. on April 11, a man was working at a barber shop near Buffum and Center when a man came to the door and told him Ward wanted to talk with him outside. He said he knew Ward from when they attended school together as children. Ward was sitting in a vehicle outside the barber shop. When the man asked Ward what he was up to, the complaint says Ward said "he was getting or gathering souls," and the man noticed Ward had a handgun under one of his legs. The man soon heard "numerous" gunshots coming from behind him as he turned back toward the barber shop. He soon collapsed due to numerous gunshot wounds, and was later taken to the hospital.

    The complaint says 10 casings were recovered from the scene, and it was determined they were fired from the same gun.

    Two-and-a-half hours later, around 1:30 p.m., police were dispatched to the area near 56th and Burleigh, where they discovered a victim lying face down -- "bleeding profusely." Life-saving measures were attempted, but the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The death was ruled a homicide as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

    According to the complaint, a witness said he was headed to a store in the area when he noticed a Porsche parked in the middle of 56th St. facing northbound, which he thought was "odd." He said he navigated around it and saw two black males in a heated conversation -- one of them Ward. The witness said he soon heard two "pops" and saw an arm extended from one of the vehicles. He then saw the door to that vehicle open and Ward extending his arm out of the vehicle -- firing more shots at the victim, who dropped to the ground. The witness was able to identify Ward as the shooter via a live lineup. Six casings were recovered from the scene and it was determined they were fired from the same firearm.

    56th and Burleigh shooting scene

    56th and Burleigh shooting scene

    Twenty minutes later, around 1:50 p.m., police learned Ward shot two victims near 64th and Silver Spring. The complaint says one of the victims called the other victim "to purchase some Percocet pills," and the victim then called Ward for a ride home. Ward told the victim he was looking for some things, which the victim knew to mean pills, and the victim told Ward he was with someone who had some. Ward said he was near 60th and Burleigh and would be there soon. The complaint says Ward arrived and both victims got into his vehicle. Ward told one victim he wanted to buy all of the pills, so the victim gave the pills to Ward, and Ward handed over money. The victims then exited the vehicle. That's when the complaint says Ward yelled out the window "hey bro, I love you." When the victim turned around, he saw Ward was holding a handgun, and he began shooting. The victim said he thought he heard at least seven shots. The victim was struck and fell to the ground, as did the second victim, who said he played dead until Ward drove off.

    Investigators responded to Ward's home, where they found spent casings in his vehicle, and a gun case in his home. The gun case did not contain a gun, but it did contain paperwork, a gun lock and two .40 caliber magazines.

    The complaint notes that Ward was convicted in 2003 of credit fraud, greater than $10,000, and was therefore prohibited from possessing a firearm.

    Ward made his initial appearance in court on April 16. A preliminary hearing was set for April 26 and cash bond was set at $200,000.