MILWAUKEE (AP) — A man whose van struck and killed a 2-year-old boy on a Milwaukee street was shot to death after getting out to check on the child, police said. A 15-year-old boy who came from a nearby house was also fatally shot.
Archie Brown Jr., 40, died at the scene of Sunday evening’s accident near a park on Milwaukee’s near northwest side, police said. They identified the child as 2-year-old Damani Terry and the teen as Rasheed T. Chiles, who died at a hospital.
A police statement Monday said Brown was distraught about hitting the child and stopped right away, according to witnesses. The statement didn’t explain how and why Chiles was shot, but police said he and the 2-year-old were attending the same party at the house near the accident.
Mayor Tom Barrett called the shooting of Brown an “assassination.”
“Someone got angry,” Barrett said. “Someone took a gun and basically assassinated this gentleman.”
Brown’s father, Archie Brown Sr., said a neighbor riding with his son on a trip to Home Depot told him that Chiles had gone to the scene to try to help.
“He came over to assist Junior and while he was assisting him they were shot,” the elder Brown said. “It’s a tough situation.”
Police said they had no one in custody.
Orange and blue balloons were taped to the front window of the house on Monday, along with a crepe paper streamer that read “Happy Birthday.” A frosted cake was smashed on the front sidewalk and candy was strewn in the yard.
Barbara Sprewer, who lives next door, said she saw Damani looking around before crossing the street, apparently heading for some girls dancing in the nearby park. She saw the van approach, and estimated it was going 25 to 30 mph.
“Nobody was watching the baby,” she said.
After the child was hit, she saw the driver get out. She said she heard shots but didn’t see who shot him or Chiles.
“I feel helpless. I feel numb,” she said. “I saw them alive and I saw them deceased. I’ve been reliving this since I woke up.”
Bob May, 68, another next-door neighbor, said he heard five gunshots as he was washing dishes and thought at first it was firecrackers going off in the park. He said he looked out to see the van with its door open and people talking on phones. May said his neighbors had moved in about six months earlier and he didn’t know them.
Brown said his son was a great father to his four daughters, including a 6-month-old baby.
“He liked to laugh. He took good care of his children. He was an excellent father to his children,” Brown said.
The attack on Brown was similar to one on a motorist in Detroit in 2013. In that incident, 54-year-old Steve Utash was severely beaten after he stopped to help a 10-year-old boy he had hit with his pickup truck. Utash suffered severe head injuries and was hospitalized in a coma for days.
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