Potential suspect in Potawatomi shooting released from case
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office said on Wednesday afternoon, June 19th, the suspect taken into custody in connection with a shooting early Sunday morning inside Potawatomi Bingo Casino has been released from custody in the Potawatomi case -- a move that surprised witnesses that were inside the casino that morning.
That man, a 27-year-old Wauwatosa man, remained in custody Wednesday after he was released from the Potawatomi case, in connection with other, unrelated charges involving a disagreement with his girlfriend back in May. On Thursday, June 20th, the man bailed himself out -- posting $500 to set himself free.
FOX6 News spoke with the man's attorney on Thursday night. He says his client is a victim, who was jumped the night of the shooting.
Attorney Robert D'Arruda says his client spent two days in the hospital after getting into a fight at the casino.
D'Arruda says it was someone else who pulled the gun.
D'Arruda points to Potawatomi Bingo Casino's state-of-the-art surveillance, that he says clearly has not convinced prosecutors his client is guilty.
"Make no mistake -- if a casino shooting that makes headlines in the newspaper, makes headlines on your TV station and crystal clear video, you better believe if they do, that if they had video brandishing a gun or showing a gun he`d be charged right now," D'Arruda told FOX6 News.
"Once the shots rang out, everybody hit the floor. I was stepping around the blackjack table, and I could hear a voice say 'I'm shot,' and I looked down and a young lady was laying down there with a gunshot wound to her thigh," Antonio Felder said.
Potawatomi Bingo Casino was shut down early Sunday morning, and the 24-hour operation did not reopen until 9:00 a.m., after police said a 27-year-old Wauwatosa man shot a 23-year-old Milwaukee woman in the leg, inside the casino.
Felder and his friends said they were pretty sure who pulled the trigger that morning.
Police were able to take the Wauwatosa man into custody on the casino grounds -- but the District Attorney's Office released him from the Potawatomi case on Wednesday afternoon. The District Attorney's Office would only say the man was released, pending further investigation.
"He got incensed about looking at his girl, and started just screaming and hollering," Felder said.
Felder says the man held as the suspected shooter is the same guy who got in his face Sunday morning looking for a fight.
What Felder did not see is the actual shooting -- but he says it shouldn't matter.
"There is so many cameras in there, it's ridiculous!" Felder said.
Felder says he and his friends estimate there were 40 or more surveillance cameras on the casino floor where the shooting took place. He is surprised investigators need more time to file charges against the person or people responsible.
"What they charge him with is yet to be seen, but it was definitely a crime against everyone that was there," Felder said.
The District Attorney's Office says it continues to investigate the incident.
On Monday, June 17th, Potawatomi Bingo Casino officials addressed this weekend's violent incident.
"I hate to say this is the new reality, but I think every business, including our casino, has to look at ways to prevent this from happening," Potawatomi Bingo Casino spokesman Ryan Amundson said.
Amundson says despite the casino's "no weapons" policy, someone brought a gun and fired it early Sunday morning. Now, casino officials are working to reassure customers.
"This absolutely was an isolated event. To put this into perspective, we've been open 22 years and welcome 6 million people a year. That's the size of a large city and we have never had gunshots fired on the floor before," Amundson said.
Witnesses told FOX6 News it appears the 23-year-old victim was caught in the crossfire during a struggle on the casino floor.
One witness told FOX6 News it was the young woman's birthday.
"I was upstairs at the bingo hall, and then when it was over they told everybody to exit because it was a shooting downstairs. The security guards was there. They dropped like everybody else dropped. They wasn’t too much protecting each other. They were trying but they were scared too. They fell to the floor. The whole casino fell to the floor basically," witness Shelia King told FOX6 News.
Amundson says the security guards at Potawatomi are trained to take cover and report the incident, as they are not armed.
One witness told FOX6 News he feels there needs to be more security at the Casino.
"I was like, 'wow, for real?' I didn't think you could get a gun on the gaming floor. When you come on the premises, there should be like a magnet or something so people know you're coming in with something. I guess now they need to make a change to make that happen," a witness told FOX6 News.
De Von Dent, who shared pictures with FOX6 News said it seemed the gunman was upset after someone had looked at his girlfriend. A skirmish followed, and the firearm surfaced, and that began a struggle for the weapon -- a handgun witnesses describe as having an extended clip.
Potawatomi officials say a security guard was knocked to the floor when the fight broke out, and several others were attending to a medical emergency on a different floor.
"We're going to be looking at every policy, every protocol to see what we can do to prevent a situation like this from happening again," Amundson said.
Potawatomi officials say they have reviewed security footage, and determined there were no issues in terms of the way Casino officials responded to the incident.