Two young lives lost to gun violence: Loved ones release balloons for Tariq Akbar, Giovonnie Cameron

MILWAUKEE -- Loved ones of 14-year-old Tariq Akbar gathered on Thursday evening, July 9th to mark nearly one week since the young boy lost his life to gun violence. This, as there was a second gathering to remember 13-year-old Giovonnie Cameron, who lost his life early Wednesday in a shooting at his home near 22nd and Eggert.

The city of Milwaukee is getting national attention -- and not for good reason.

Earlier this week, Milwaukee Police Chief said this year, Milwaukee has seen 80 homicides, up from 39 at this time in 2014. As of Thursday, July 9th, there had been 10 homicides in Milwaukee in just the last seven days.

In a report on violence in our nation by USA Today, Milwaukee was lumped in with cities like Baltimore and New Orleans.

In parts of Milwaukee, the USA Today report says, the sound of gunfire is so commonplace that about 80% of gunshots detected by ShotSpotter sensors aren't even called into police by residents, Flynn said.

"We've got folks out there living in neighborhoods, where it's just part of the background noise," Flynn told USA TODAY. "That's what we're up against."

Tariq Akbar

14-year-old Tariq Akbar lost his life after he was shot in the head near N. Lake Drive and Kenilworth last Friday evening, July 3rd, shortly after the U.S. Bank Fireworks Show wrapped up along the lakefront. Akbar died at the hospital, despite the efforts of first responders to restore his pulse.

The pain of their loss hasn't diminished for Akbar's family and those who knew and loved him. They launched balloons for Akbar on Thursday near his home.

Police say this shooting was a result of a feud on Facebook over a girl.

15-year-old Matthew McMillan has been charged in the case. He faces one count of first degree reckless homicide.

According to the complaint against McMillan, one witness told police he was with Akbar when "a group of about 12 males approached them and stated, 'What's up?'" The witness said "after the confrontation, he observed the subject, who he Matthew McMillan, holding a firearm." He told investigators, "This is the person that I saw shoot Tariq, I'm 100% positive."

Another witness told police in the complaint that while he was with Akbar, "a fight ensued with a group that called themselves the 'Bang Brothers.'" Police came by and broke up the fight. A short time later, the witness saw the "Bang Brothers" at the top of a nearby hill. The witness "observed the defendant armed with a firearm." He told investigators he saw "the defendant raise that firearm, and fire several times." The witness told police one of the bullets hit Akbar.

Immediately following the shooting, five officers in relay teams worked to save Akbar. The officers were able to get a pulse back, but Akbar died at Children’s Hospital.

An autopsy determined Akbar died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

Akbar’s friends and family members say this is a senseless crime.

"Seeing all these young men getting murdered in cold blood for no reason," Maurice McClendon said.

Tariq Akbar killed in shooting near N. Lake Drive

McClendon didn't know Akbar, but he says his heart aches for him and the growing number of victims of gun violence in Milwaukee.

"Let`s put the guns down," McClendon said.

Including the shooting that killed Akbar, there have been 10 homicides in seven days in Milwaukee. And Milwaukee's statistics are getting national attention.

USA Today reports Milwaukee has recorded 84 homicides so far this year. USA Today points to tighter budgets at every level as a possible reason for the rise in killings. But Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says this is an issue that runs much deeper than money.

"What we`re seeing right now are young people who have access -- too easy access -- to guns. It`s a byproduct of not having the resources in the criminal justice system to make sure that there are meaningful and productive consequences to actions," Mayor Barrett said.

Balloon release for Tariq Akbar

Near 22nd and Eggert on Thursday evening, balloons were released for 13-year-old Giovonnie Cameron.

"As you release them, they will gravitate toward the sky -- symbolic of Giovonnie's soul going to heaven," a man said at the vigil for Cameron.

A 13-year-old male suspect has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of Cameron. He was taken into custody in the 5600 block of N. 67th Street on Thursday.

MPD will present the case to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office for charges in the coming days.

Giovonnie Cameron

Matthew McMillan, charged in connection with the shooting death of Tariq Akbar, will next be in court on July 16th.