Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mean Mugging

14-year-old who shot boy, 13, is sent to Ethan Allen
Bullet paralyzed victim from the waist down
Sarah Carr, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Aug. 15, 2007

A 14-year-old boy who fired shots while he was near the home of Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West earlier this month - paralyzing a 13-year-old from the waist down - was sentenced Wednesday to two years at Ethan Allen School in the Town of Delafield.

Before the sentencing in Milwaukee County Children's Court, the 13-year-old's relatives made an impassioned plea that the shooter visit the victim in the hospital to see the tragedy he caused.
Clutching a photo of her grandchildren, the victim's grandmother addressed the shooter: "That's my grandson . . . please look, this is (him). That's his brother and sister. You changed all their lives. He can't play with them anymore. His little brother doesn't understand why his brother can't even get out of bed.

"You've ruined my family's life, and you've ruined your own life."

The 14-year-old had been dating one of West's daughters, and was hanging out with her around 10 p.m. Aug. 1 on the porch of West's home in the 1100 block of W. Scott St. before the shooting. According to statements by witnesses included in the Children's Court petition, the victim was out bicycling with another boy that evening.

One witness said that the first time the two boys biked by the house, the 14-year-old "mean mugged" them, and they "mean mugged" back in turn.

Another witness said that when the victim bicycled by West's house for a second time, another group of boys on bicycles and on foot passed by. One of that group began flashing gang signs.
Almost immediately, the 14-year-old began to fire shots toward the bicyclists, according to witness accounts.

The victim fell off his bike, at which point his friends tried to carry him away.

The shooter told police that he felt threatened by the gang signs, but does not belong to a gang himself.

There is no indication that the shooter and victim knew each other.

West later said that she had gone outside after the shooting, and when she learned who the suspect was, she led police to his house. Afterward, West said, her family endured death threats. On Wednesday, she declined to comment further about the case.

The defense attorney said his 14-year-old client had "panicked" that night out of fear and wanted the gun to protect himself from gang members. The boy had no prior record.
But Assistant District Attorney Steven Licata called the 14-year-old's version of events "absolute baloney."

"Why did he have a gun in the first place?" Licata asked.

Before announcing the sentence - the maximum available - Children's Court Judge Thomas Cooper told the 14-year-old: "I suspect you never fired a gun before. You were probably shocked at the noise the gun made."

The judge went on to say that as hard as the sentence will be on the boy, "at least at the end of two, four years, you will be able to walk out. The victim will never be able to do that."

The shooter's grandmother also addressed the court and the victim's family. "I know how sincerely sorry he is," she said. "It was fear based. He didn't mean to hurt him."

"Was he afraid of my grandson?" the victim's grandmother asked, incredulously.

After expressing sympathy for each other, the two women embraced, weeping in each other's arms before the court.

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