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Madison Police Chief addresses shooting at Garner Park: “Off the charts”

A total of three people were injured by bullets, and two others are in custody.
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 1:31 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In his first in-person press conference in weeks, Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl addressed the late-night shooting in which gunmen opened fire on a crowd of over 300 people attending a memorial event at Garner Park for a recent homicide victim Tuesday.

A total of three people were injured by bullets, and two others are in custody. Chief Wahl clarified that the two in custody were not arrested in connection to the shooting, but on other tentative charges. Wahl said he could not confirm whether the shooting was gang-related.

Wahl and other city and police officials described this shooting as a the latest in a string of shooting and shots fired incidents rocking the Madison area. Just in July, MPD counted 50 shots fired calls, and 11 people were struck by bullets, according to the chief. Eight people have been homicide victims, which is double than last year.

The 300 people were attending a memorial for Maurice R. Bowman Jr., 24, who was shot and killed in Madison last weekend.

“The gun violence that we’re seeing here in Madison is really at an unprecedented level,” Chief Wahl said at the press conference. “I clearly think that this level of gun violence is not something that we should not accept in our community... We’re going to continue to do our part, we’re going to investigate these crimes, We’re going to do what we can to hold the suspects accountable and provide a sense of justice for the victims and their families.”

MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain told reporters that a DJ was playing music on the second level of the pavilion. DeSpain said that the shooters - one apparently armed with the high-caliber AK-47 assault rifle - approached under the cover of the night and opened fire on the memorial attendees. MPD officers who were monitoring the event nearby reported seeing muzzle flashes from the pavilion - suggesting attendees returned fire.

A police incident report found that “men, women, and children were seen fleeing from the gunfire,” when the shots were heard coming from the park and the park’s pavilion.

LIVE: Updates on Garner Park shooting

#LIVE Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl gives updates on the shooting at Garner Park last night. MORE >> https://bit.ly/2BZC4tB

Posted by NBC15 Madison on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Three gunshot victims arrived to local hospitals to be treated, and two others received injuries police said were not related to the shooting. All are expected to be okay.

Officers at the scene said they found a total of 63 spent shell casings, including cases from an AK-47, and from a handgun. Officers also found two guns at Garner Park.

Regarding enforcing Dane County’s health order on large groups of people during the pandemic, Chief Wahl said that the police department has to be strategic.

“When our officers ultimately moved into the park after the shooting happened, there was a fair amount of hostility and a lack of cooperation from the group. Certainly with the environment, we’re operating under,” according to the chief.

In an updated incident report Wednesday, MPD identified the two people who were arrested, but at this time are not connected to the shooting. MPD identified them as:

-- Jumanji E. Bridges, age 23, Fitchburg, was taken into custody for possession firearm by felon, resisting/obstructing, and possession of THC

-- Emmanuel F. Hunter, age 24, Madison was arrested for a probation violation and for extradition.

MPD continued that the people injured include a 24-year-old man who was shot in the leg; a 40-year-old woman who was also shot in the leg; and a 32-year-old man who was shot in the foot.

MPD adds that a 21-year-old woman reportedly suffered a graze wound to her back, but did not seek medical help right away nor did she want to talk to MPD. Another man injured his hand after falling on some rocks, police say.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway denounced the shooting on Wednesday.

“We have to be looking at ways to prevent these incidents from happening. That’ll require partnerships from entire community. That’s something my office is looking at very carefully.”

The mayor continued: “I think what we’re hearing from the police is that there are sets of incidents that are related to each other and that involve the same people. I think that’s the most accurate way to describe what’s going on. I don’t think I’d go any farther than that.”

If anyone has information on this incident, you’re encouraged to call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014, or on the web at P3Tips.com.

Police investigate shooting scene at Garner Park Tuesday night
Police investigate shooting scene at Garner Park Tuesday night(WMTV)

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