Rowdy teens tearing a community apart, neighbors "live in fear"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The people in one Milwaukee neighborhood make a plea for more police. They say violent teens have forced a long-time staple of the community to close its doors for good.

At first, it may seem strange that people in the Merrill Park neighborhood are upset because the Speedway was shut down on Saturday. But neighbors say the boarded up windows there symbolize the problems they face.

"Our residents here, many of them live in fear," said Bob Greene, Merrill Park neighborhood associate director.

A handful of people in the Merrill Park neighborhood say, much like the shuttered Speedway that is located behind them, they've had enough.

"It hurts the neighborhood. It hurts the neighborhood, it hurts everybody because they have so many customers daily that came here and it`s just sad," said Sharlon Foster, woman who lives near gas station.

Alderman Bob Donovan says the gas station closed permanently on Saturday after vandals broke the business's windows. Prior to that, neighbors describe groups of teens that would frequent the Speedway -- but never bought anything.

"They come in and literally have backpacks, put it around the front of their clothes, and they came in scooping, scooping, and scooping anything they can get their hands on," Greene said.

"They come into Speedway and they come in with book bags and they just rob the people blind," said Foster.

Neighbors say the crimes that closed Speedway are more than in inconvenience.

"They're prisoners in their own homes," said Greene.

They're the latest example of rowdy teens tearing a community apart.

"I saw so many things, I done saw people get beat up, homeless people getting beat up in the park just because they're sleeping. You know it's so much happening in this neighborhood right now," Foster said.

Donovan issued his familiar call for the city to hire more police officers.

"Full-time beat cops walking these neighborhoods, getting to know business owners, getting to know the good and the bad and developing a relationship with the citizens the police serve," said Donovan.

Citizens trying to figure out what went wrong, and how they can fix it.

"It just don't make any sense. When will it end?" said Foster.

Milwaukee Police say they're well aware of the problems at this gas station and met with Speedway officials this week.

The Milwaukee Police Department says it had no indication the business was closing.