Milwaukee community center vandalized, fish tanks smashed

Caught on video, a suspect smashed the front door windows and fish tanks inside a Milwaukee community center on Tuesday.

The suspect, as it turns out, is a member of the community center. While the damage is significant, the center director's main concern is for the suspect's mental health.

The colorful fish and curious turtles are beloved inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center near 16th and Vliet. Earlier this week, staff witnessed the unimaginable.

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"We’re talking about 500 to 600 gallons of water on the floor," said Director Dee McCollum.

Surveillance captured all the angles in which the suspect began destroying several fish and turtle tanks in the lobby. And he didn't stop there.

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Vandalism at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center

The suspect smashed the windows in the front entrance, trophy displays and a vending machine. The facility went into a lockdown.

"It’s not normal for somebody to come and tear up the building. That is definitely a cry for help," McCollum said. "This is an obvious mental health issue."

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The cleanup has been ongoing since Tuesday. Several fish did not make it, and "Jimmy" the turtle suffered a spinal fracture; he's getting care at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Video showed the suspect surrender to police. McCollum urges people to reach out to Milwaukee County's 24-hour crisis hotline. She said the majority of what was damaged can be fixed or replaced, and is hopeful the suspect gets the help he needs.

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Vandalism at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center

"My major concern is for the health of that young man," said McCollum. "That’s my major thing is this kid, I really want to see him get well."

Court records show the suspect has not yet been charged. The community center is still hosting a food drive Saturday starting at 2 p.m. Families can line up and receive a box of food, enough to feed a family of four, on a first-come, first-served basis.


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