Monday shooting that killed teen is the latest in a rise of mass shootings in Milwaukee since 2020

·5 min read
Police tape remains at the scene near where a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed while five others were injured in the 1400 block of W. Concordia Ave. in Milwaukee on Monday night.
Police tape remains at the scene near where a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed while five others were injured in the 1400 block of W. Concordia Ave. in Milwaukee on Monday night.

The shooting on Milwaukee's north side Monday that killed a 15-year-old and injured five adults was the 23rd mass shooting in the city since 2020.

The shooting, the latest in a string of apparent interpersonal conflicts spilling over into mass gun violence, was reported at 11:25 p.m. on the 1400 block of West Concordia Avenue. A 15-year-old was arrested in connection with the incident, police said Thursday.

Police released no information on the circumstances of the shooting, other than it appeared to be related to an argument.

Mike Hall, 50, said he was walking his dog about a half-mile away at the time when he overheard a barrage of what sounded like automatic gunfire.

“Another young teenager,” he said as he shook his head Tuesday morning.

The shooting continues two hard-to-stomach trends within Milwaukee’s three-plus years of historic gun violence: more frequent victimization of children and more outbursts of mass gun violence.

The 15-year-old was identified as Davion Patterson by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office. Efforts to reach his family were not successful Tuesday, but the family set up a GoFundMe page that had collected more than $1,500 as of Thursday morning.

He is the seventh child to die by homicide so far this year, according to police. It comes as fatal child gun violence has doubled since 2020 – when the pandemic arrived and disrupted social services, employment and education for millions of Americans – with more than 20 victims each of the last three years.

It is also Milwaukee’s 23rd mass shooting – defined as four or more people who are injured or killed, not including any shooter – in the three-plus years since 2020, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks incidents nationwide. A 24th incident also occurred in Wauwatosa during that time.

In the three years prior to that, Milwaukee experienced just five such incidents. The Violence Project, a nonprofit research group which uses a more narrow definition of mass shootings, has also charted an increase nationwide in recent years.

Reggie Moore, the director of community safety policy and engagement at the Medical College of Wisconsin, attributed the increase of multiple-victim incidents to the accessibility of high-capacity firearms.

He said there has been a rise in the use of extended clips in handguns and devices that can convert a semiautomatic handgun into a fully automatic.

Arguments are the number one motivating factor behind shootings and homicides in Milwaukee – including mass shootings – and when they escalate to the point where a firearm with those capabilities is involved, it puts additional people in danger, Moore said.

Firing a semiautomatic handgun accurately is already difficult, he said, and it only gets harder when a weapon is firing 20 to 30 bullets within seconds.

“Whether you’re talking a rifle or handgun that can fire large caliber bullets, [and use] high-capacity magazines, it’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

The number of bullets fired during shootings in Milwaukee has also gone up since 2020. Between 2017 and 2019, the mean average number of casings found at a shooting scene ranged from 6.4 to 7.2, according to the Medical College of Wisconsin.

From 2020 to 2022, police have found a mean average of 8.5 to 9.5 casings.

Several of these factors were at play during Milwaukee’s biggest example of a mass shooting – when 17 people were injured following a Milwaukee Bucks playoff game in May 2022. Court records have made clear that incident resulted from a feud between two groups of people.

All told, the 23 mass shooting incidents in Milwaukee since 2020 have killed 22 people and injured another 93, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The 2020 shooting at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa injured eight others and also involved a longstanding feud between two groups, according to police.

Moore on Tuesday reiterated what officials have long begged the public to do: to peacefully de-escalate conflict when it arises or to reach out to service providers, such as Milwaukee's team of violence interrupters called 414Life.

"We all share in the responsibility in Milwaukee and our community being safe in general," he said. "If there is a conflict that is escalating and firearms are presented as a part of that conflict, that is a threat to everyone not just involved in that conflict but everyone in proximity to what is happening.”

Terry Johnson, 55, and Charles Wilson, 54, two residents who live within blocks of Monday’s shooting scene, both said the neighborhood in general is filled with hardworking residents, but has still been troubled by shootings from people feuding with another.

“Everyone can’t find the suburbs to live in,” Johnson said. “People who have nothing to do with this still have to deal with it.”

“They’re lost,” Wilson said, referring to people engaging in risky behavior such as stealing cars and carrying guns. “Ain’t nobody looking after them.”

Beck Andrew Salgado of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Where to find help

Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention also recommends these resources for free support:

414Life outreach and conflict mediation support: 414-439-5398.

Milwaukee County's 24-Hour Mental Health Crisis Line: 414-257-7222.

Milwaukee's Child Mobile Crisis and Trauma Response Team: 414-257-7621.

National crisis text line: Text HOPELINE to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255.The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: There's been a rise in mass shootings in Milwaukee since 2020