MILWAUKEE -- Nearly a year after the tragic death of Laylah Petersen, on Tuesday, October 20th, Milwaukee police announced the arrest of three suspects -- who have been charged in connection with Petersen's death.
Laylah Petersen would have turned six years old on September 23rd. But her young life was cut short when she was shot while she was sitting on her grandfather's lap inside a home near 58th and Fairmount on November 6, 2014.
Petersen died at the hospital, as a result of two gunshot wounds to her head. Her death was ruled a homicide.
"I've been carrying something around with me for a year. And it's Laylah. I'd like to think we can put her to rest now," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said Tuesday of a button with Laylah's picture on it he's been carrying since November 6th, 2014.
Chief Flynn holds button with photo of Laylah Petersen
According to the complaint, 12 9mm casings were recovered from the scene, along with a total of seven deformed bullets/bullet fragments. A Wisconsin Crime Lab analysis of the 12 casings revealed two firearms were used in this shooting.
Carl Barrett, Arlis Gordon, Paul Farr
The three people charged in this case are: 24-year-old Paul Farr, 20-year-old Carl Barrett and 23-year-old Arlis Gordon. Police say Farr and Barrett were arrested on October 14th in Milwaukee. Gordon was arrested in suburban Chicago on October 17th on unrelated charges.
Farr has been charged with two counts of harboring/aiding a felon. Barrett and Gordon have both been charged with first degree reckless homicide–party to a crime.
"These individuals were motivated by a tragic, but also absurd chain of events," Chief Flynn said.
Chief Flynn said on Tuesday the shooting death of Laylah Petersen occurred on the same day a man was acquitted in a murder trial in Milwaukee County -- and Chief Flynn said the suspects "shot the wrong house."
Scene at 58th and Fairmount, where Laylah Petersen was shot
A criminal complaint filed against the three men charged in this case says Arlis Gordon was in court on November 6th, 2014 as a jury was deliberating in a homicide case. The complaint indicates Gordon was the homicide victim's "brother."
The complaint says during a break in the court proceedings, Gordon contacted a man and asked him to lend Gordon a firearm. Then, Gordon -- accompanied by Barrett, met the man at Farr's home, and the man gave Gordon a firearm.
According to the complaint, the firearm was a "unique looking 9mm semi-automatic handgun, green in color, with a camouflage pattern on it."
Late on the afternoon of November 6th, 2014, the jury deliberating in the homicide case acquitted the man facing charges -- issuing a not guilty verdict.
Police say following the verdict, a man reported he ran into Gordon near Sherman and Villard -- and said Gordon was "very upset," and intoxicated. That man indicated Gordon was talking about his brother's killer, and that he stated: "He killed my brother and he's getting out! This can't be going on. I'm gonna do something about it."
The complaint says around dusk on November 6th, Gordon called Farr and told them "they could come get the gun." Shortly thereafter, Farr, Barrett and another man got into Farr's vehicle and drove to a location where Gordon's family was gathering after the jury's verdict was heard.
Eventually, Gordon got into Farr's vehicle -- and the men drove towards a location referred to as "Baby Girl's house."
At one point during this ride, the complaint indicates Gordon asked that the vehicle stop, because he had to pick something up. Cell phone records showed at this point in time, Farr's phone was located very close to the scene of the homicide of Laylah Petersen (58th and Fairmount.)
The complaint says Gordon and Barrett exited the vehicle -- and Farr and the other man stayed inside.
A few seconds later, the man in the vehicle with Farr told investigators he heard "a barrage of gunfire."
Within seconds, Barrett and Gordon got back into the vehicle -- and Farr drove away.
The men continued driving towards "Baby Girl's house" on 42nd Street. There, the complaint indicates two firearms were placed on a table, and Barrett and Gordon began talking about the shooting, with Gordon telling the group: "I emptied the whole clip! We lit the whole (expletive) up!"
Bullet marker on window of home where Laylah Petersen was shot
The complaint indicates the fourth man who was with Gordon, Barrett and Farr on November 6th told investigators he encountered Barrett in jail -- and Barrett told the man that "they meant to hit the house of Gordon's brother's killer, or the house where his baby's mama stays, but that they shot into the wrong house." Police say Gordon asked that the man "keep his mouth shut."
The home of Gordon's brother's killer's girlfriend is four blocks from the scene of the homicide (at 54th and Fairmount), according to police.
Justice for Laylah is something her family members have asked for all along. Petersen's grandmother and Godmother last spoke with FOX6 News on September 22nd -- on the eve of what would have been Laylah's sixth birthday. They indicated that a break in the case would be the best birthday gift for Laylah.
On Tuesday, while speaking to reporters, Laylah's father, R.J. Petersen said for the first time in nearly a year, he feels some relief.
"Last night I got the first peaceful night's sleep I've had in a very long time," R.J. Petersen said.