MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a man’s death after his body was found in a flaming car on the city’s south side early Monday.
Firefighters responded to the car fire at about 3 a.m. on South 9th Street by West Cleveland Avenue.
Billy Pierce heard the car go up in flames in front of his home.
“It was just like a pounding noise like someone was hitting on the side of the garage with something,” Pierce said.
A few minutes earlier he woke up to his baby crying and saw two people running outside.
“They ran in the field and then there’s a bridge right here on 8th, and then they ran across the bridge and went through the alley between 9th and 8th,” Pierce said.
After firefighters put out the blaze, they discovered a dead man inside the vehicle.
The cause of death is under investigation, but Pierce believes the men he saw running in the field were involved.
“Not on this block since I’ve been here, no one’s going to run through the field at 2 in the morning and nothing happened,” Pierce said.
Police have yet to release the name and age of the victim, but a family told TODAY’S TMJ4 it was their loved one, and that he was found inside his girlfriend’s car.
A cousin, who didn’t want to be identified, said she’s still processing the news but doesn’t believe it was an accident.
“I’m angry. This is shocking,” the woman said. “For him to end up in a trunk like that, he got set up.”
She said the victim was a good person, who was trying to get back on his feet for his son.
“He had a good sense of humor. He was always joking around with everybody. If you needed him, he was there,” she said.
"Milwaukee used to be a place where you could walk around, you could do this, you could have fun. Now you can’t even have your kids outside of your house. We hope to get justice.” — Cousin of unidentified victim
Now she’s concerned and is looking for answers.
“Milwaukee used to be a place where you could walk around, you could do this, you could have fun. Now you can’t even have your kids outside of your house,” the woman said. “We hope to get justice.”
Pierce and his neighbor Eliezer Gonzalez feel the same. They’re surprised this happened so close to home.
“We’re all family-oriented. We all know each other on this block, and we look out for each other,” Gonzalez said.
Now they say this is a wake-up call to be more aware of their surroundings.
“Bring your kids in more. Watch them more. Make sure you watch your family over and make sure all your loved ones are good,” Gonzalez said.
The incident remains under investigation.