Groups address Milwaukee violence, increase in juvenile victims

Milwaukee police, public health and community groups came together Tuesday, April 27 to address a recent rise in violent crime.

FOX6 News is told the private, virtual meeting will also involve the city's Office of Violence Prevention. Their goal is to listen to community groups, like Running Rebels, and address the root of these violent acts.

Milwaukee's violent year continued Tuesday morning. Police said a 35-year-old man was shot near Appleton and Hampton and taken to the hospital.

The night before, a double shooting unfolded at Chambers and Palmer where two men -- ages 30 and 32 -- were taken to the hospital.

The incidents came hours after city leaders on Monday addressed growing concerns about violence.

"Too many of the perpetrators and the victims of violence are participating in dangerous behavior. Whether it’s drug activity, robberies or other dangerous activities," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

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Milwaukee is on pace to break homicide records set in 2020. Police said, as of Monday, there have been 47 homicides in 2021 compared to 45 at the same time in last year. There have been 214 non-fatal shootings so far this year -- up from 120 at this time in 2020.

"If we can get services upstream in a preventative way or to intervene in harmful, high-risk behavior, firearms and stolen cars, then we can prevent the kind of tragedies we saw last year," said David Muhammad, deputy director for Milwaukee County's Department of Health and Human Services.

Law enforcement at the scene of a fatal Sherman Park shooting

Law enforcement at the scene of a fatal Sherman Park shooting

Muhammad joined police and other community agencies for Tuesday's meeting to address the recent spike in juvenile victims of violent crime. Last week, Milwaukee saw seven victims of gun violence between the ages of 14 and 17. Two of them died.

"I think success at this meeting is number one, making sure community members are heard, that people impacted by violence is heard," Muhammad said.

The Department of Health and Human Services stresses that children are not necessarily the perpetrators of these crimes. They said the city is seeing an overall increase in violence across all age groups.

Data highlights violent April

Thirty children have been injured or killed due to gun violence already in 2021. New data presented Tuesday outlined why the meeting was needed in the first place.

"It was like what happened, what is going on in April?" said Dawn Barnett, Running Rebels co-executive director.

There was more crime tape and more tragedy as homicides and non-fatal shootings saw a sharp increase. Fifty percent of the year's shootings involving kids happened in April.

"The spike in the percentages of young people involved is really disheartening," Barnett said.

Data shows rise in violent Milwaukee crime in April 2021

Barnett was one of the people who took part in Tuesday's meeting to discuss how to reverse the trends.

"It was a lot of people on there, and you could feel and sense the urgency in everybody. The pain, the fatigue. It was just like a collective sigh, collective frustration that was palpable. You could feel it," said Barnett.

During the meeting, there was a presentation from the Medical College of Wisconsin that broke down the data. More than half of the shootings and homicides happened in a 5.5 square mile area in the center of Milwaukee from Capitol Drive to Vine Street between 10th and 50th.

All of the youth incidents in 2021 have involved a handgun. Around half involved an argument or fight primarily over respect.

Data shows distribution of homicides, shootings across Milwaukee

Barnett is using that data to try to find a solution.

"I think all of us need to pay attention to those situations and no longer just say hey, they’ll solve it. It’ll be fine, but really understanding it may take intervention," Barnett said. "It may take other people coming into the situation to try and make sure we help squash some of it before it escalates into violence."

Officials told FOX6 that Tuesday's meeting was just the start. There will be more meetings and announcements to come. 

Police said the meeting was kept private as to protect the identity of minors who may have been discussed.

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