ATF looking for Sherman Park arson suspects one year later

Nearly a year after the violence erupted in Sherman Park, federal investigators continue to look for the people responsible for burning several businesses to the ground.

So far there has been one federal arrest, though agents said more are coming. The fires and looting went on for two days following the shooting death of Syville Smith by a former Milwaukee Police Officer.

On Aug. 13, 2016, fire lit up the night as people clashed with police in the Sherman Park neighborhood.  In the next 48 hours, seven businesses burned during the violence. One was destroyed as people were trapped inside.

The damage costs were more than $8 million. A joint investigation was launched to find those responsible by Milwaukee Police, Milwaukee Fire and federal investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"We are going to hold the people accountable who started those fires," said ATF special agent in charge Joel Lee.

Milwaukee police arrest dozens of people in the days following the violence. But it was not until last month that the first person was arrested and charged federally for setting fire to Big Jim's Liquor Store. The ATF said the six other businesses that burned are all active cases as well.

"We are actively working and in a complex investigation such as this. There is a lot involved," Lee said.

Part of that investigation has been done on social media. Search warrants show agents used sites like Facebook to look at cell phone video of the violence.

"Those social media accounts which we have minded tirelessly have given clues and lead to several things. They have lead to parts of the investigation that corroborated some of the things that we have been able to uncover," Lee said.

And the ATF said their agents are not done yet.

"We are in the home stretch of the investigation and we anticipating more arrests," Lee said. "So when it's time we will bring forth solid case and we will be able to tell the community what happened."

The ATF said when those arrests are made, they will likely be up to federal prosecutors. However, they still have their tip line up and say all information is still important. You can call 1-888-ATF-FIRE with any details. 

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