Water Street violence remains concern for businesses, residents

Milwaukee police are investigating three shootings that happened in the downtown entertainment district Friday – including one that left 17 people injured near Water and Juneau.

It is not the first time concerns have been voiced about safety, specifically along Water Street. Last summer, it was a topic of conversation for business owners.

"It was unreal," said Kaycee Peters. "Terrifying. For the first time I was actually scared for my life."

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The moments of panic remain fresh for Peters after hearing gunshots near Water and Juneau. She took cover, along with those visiting, working and living in the Water Street bar district.

"I went running down the alleyway, grab my friend, threw her behind a dumpster," said Peters. 

Shooting scene near Water and Juneau, Milwaukee

"I was right upstairs, and I heard ‘pat-pat-pat-pat-pat’ – about 21 shots," said Daniel Steinpas. "I just seen people running."

The chaotic visual was a familiar one. Steinpas said, last year, he heard gunfire erupt a block away after the Milwaukee Bucks won the team's first championship in 50 years. Three people were hurt.

Sofia Chiappetti said she's grateful staff at AJ Bombers escaped the gunfire. 

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"People are just careless around here," she said. "Unfortunately there were some scary circumstances.

The restaurant closed at 8 p.m. Friday night for "safety concerns," said Chiappetti. It was a precaution after crowds got rowdy during last year's playoffs.

"They support their staff over the potential income, and it speaks volumes for the company," she said.

Water Street District code of conduct

It is a decision businesses say they should not have to make.

"Downtown and the entire city needs to be safe – day and night," said Katie Falvey, a board member of Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District 21.

The city promises solutions. Those solutions can't come fast enough for the neighborhood around Water Street.

Shooting scene near Water and Juneau, Milwaukee

"Just highly disappointed. Highly disappointed," said bus driver Chris Coleman. "Should be a better way to deal with issues instead of using guns and violence. This is a great city."

The Bucks canceled Sunday's Game 7 Deer District watch party after what happened across the downtown entertainment district Friday.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson issued a limited emergency order for the city's entertainment district, setting a curfew for those under the age of 21. The curfew applies to anyone in that age group near the Deer District and the Water Street bar district starting at 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.