'Sudden and violent brawl:' Father, 2 sons charged in attack at Zebb's 'over a dispute about a girl'

MILWAUKEE -- Charges were filed Friday, Sept. 27 against a father and his two sons in connection with a violent knife fight that happened inside Zebb's Family Restaurant on Milwaukee's south side on Sunday, Sept. 22. The accused are Steve Nitsch, 55 (not pictured), Stephen Nitsch, 32 (not pictured), and Thomas Nitch, 30. The three face the following criminal counts:

    According to the criminal complaint, Milwaukee police were dispatched to Zebb's near S. 27th Street and Morgan Avenue on Sept. 22 for a battery complaint. Officers noted there were numerous witnesses to the incident "which was described as a sudden and violent brawl."

    Thomas Nitsch

    A waitress at Zebb's indicated she was helping a customer pay for his meal at the front register when a number of individuals, some with face masks, entered the restaurant and immediately attacked (the victim). The complaint said one of the individuals pulled out a large knife and tried to stab (the victim), making a thrusting, upward motion toward him with the knife. The waitress recognized one of the other attackers as "Thomas," who was a busboy and cook at Zebb's. The waitress told police, "Thomas kicked (the victim) as he laid on the floor."

    As a result of the attacked, the victim had cuts on his arms and scratches on his body, and had a tourniquet applied, the complaint said.

    An off-duty Milwaukee police officer was inside the restaurant during the fight and attempted to de-escalate it. The complaint said while he did this, one of the individuals had a large knife and lunged at him, slashing at his neck. Surveillance video showed the individual lunging and slashing at (the off-duty officer) violently and quickly, barely missing (the off-duty officer's) neck with the blade of the knife, which witnesses described as insanely huge," the complaint said.

    Zebb's Family Restaurant

    A family member at the Nitsch home told FOX6 news the brothers were threatened by the victim.

    "It's just something that got out of hand. That's the only way I can put it," said Joseph Brockhaus, uncle and brother-in-law to the suspects.

    According to the criminal complaint, the victim told investigators he believed he was attacked because he was with Thomas Nitsch's girlfriend on Sept. 19 at Zebb's. On that day, Thomas Nitsch saw him with the girlfriend and yelled, "That's my girl!" The waitress later identified Thomas Nitsch as one of the attackers.

    The father, Steve Nitsch, later provided a statement to officers. He indicated "his son had woke him up and asked him to drive him to Zebb's. He said his son Thomas had issues with (the victim) over a dispute about a girl, and that he agreed to drive him to Zebb's to 'beat his (expletive).'"

    "I would have done the same. I would have been right there at my child's defense," Brockhaus said.

    FOX6 News stopped at the restaurant and asked to speak to the owner. We didn't immediately hear back.

    All three suspects charged in this crime made their initial appearances in court on Saturday, Sept. 28. Steve Nitsch, the father, was scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 8. Thomas and Stephen were also scheduled to be back in court on that date -- for status conferences.