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Sheriff: Man who shot deputy died from self-inflicted gunshot wound

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Posted at 4:09 AM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 13:51:38-05

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office deputy was shot multiple times during a traffic stop near I-94 Wednesday morning and authorities issued an emergency alert to residents across SE Wisconsin as they sought a suspect in the shooting.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office announced in an update that a man authorities found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound appears to be the person who shot the deputy, citing a preliminary investigation. The medical examiner identified the man as Johnathon Carl Williamson, 19, of Milwaukee, following an autopsy.

The sheriff's office said in an updated statement that the deputy attempted to make a traffic stop of a vehicle with a registration violation near West Adler and South 68th streets just after 2 a.m. The deputy called for assistance, and as reinforcements were arriving, the driver and the passenger got out of the car and tried to run away.

While the driver was taken into custody shortly afterwards, the passenger side suspect was spotted around 3 a.m. climbing out of a garbage can near Adler and 64th. Authorities created a perimeter and deputies encountered the suspect on Dixon.

The sheriff's office said that's when a deputy approached the suspect and the suspect revealed a gun and fired at the deputy, striking him several times in the arms and the torso. The deputy was brought to the hospital, where he is being treated for injuries that appear to not be life-threatening, the statement reads.

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Scene of the shooting

While searching the area, deputies and police officers found a man crouching behind a vehicle near South 60th and Main streets. The officers "verbally engaged" the man, the sheriff's office said.

Suddenly, the deputies and officers heard a single gunshot and found the man lying on the ground with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"At this time, preliminary investigation suggests that this subject was responsible for shooting the deputy sheriff," according to the sheriff's office.

The "shelter in place" emergency alert was issued to the phones of a large but unknown number of Milwaukee-area residents around 3 a.m. The sheriff said a lieutenant on duty made the decision to send the alert out, to assist in their effort to find the shooting suspect. The sheriff's office did clarify that the alert is a notice, not an order.

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The emergency alert

Just before 11 a.m., the sheriff's office announced the shelter and place notice is no longer in effect. Emergency services sent another push alert to residents' phones, at first saying "add longer WEA message here. Remove this if no longer message exists." A third alert was sent after, more clearly stating that the notice had ended.


The sheriff's office tweeted following the alerts, "Please note that MCSO does not manage Milwaukee County's emergency alert system and is not able to address concerns regarding the recent alert that did not contain substantive content. The county agency that administers this system has since issued a corrected all-clear alert."

The 26-year-old deputy has been with the sheriff's office for about 18 months, the sheriff's office said.

Out of an abundance of caution, both Burbank Elementary School and MacDowell Montessori will be learning virtually Wednesday, as their schools are near where the deputy was shot.

“We heard a bunch of gunshots - about 3 or 4 - and we heard somebody outside screaming and yelling, but I wasn’t able to see anything at the time, because I didn’t want to go outside,” said Julio Morales, who lives nearby. “I just wanted to make sure my kids were not close to any windows. I locked everything. By the time I looked out the house, there was already a big police presence.”

“It was just kind of like what do we do?” said Robert Dalsbo who doesn’t live in the immediate area where the deputy was shot, but was awakened by the alert, and alarmed by it. “I think a lot of people were left wondering if they should go to work or send their kids to school. It just seemed to be a pretty broad warning.”

Milwaukee Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson issued a statement:

"My thoughts are with the Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputy who was shot this morning. His courageous actions early this morning deserve our deepest gratitude. I wish him a speedy and full recovery. I also offer my appreciation to other members of law enforcement. They are working to make our community safer, often under difficult and dangerous conditions."

Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell R. Lucas issued the following statement:

“This morning, a courageous deputy sheriff placed himself in harm’s way, sacrificing his own safety to protect our community. The people of Milwaukee County should be very proud of this devoted public servant. The prayers and healing thoughts of all members of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office are with our injured comrade and his family as they navigate this challenging time. We wish our deputy a full recovery and extend our strongest support to him.”

I extend my appreciation to the residents and business owners who cooperated with this morning’s shelter-in-place order and helped ensure public safety during the investigation.”

Alderman Michael J. Murphy issued the following statement:

"Early this morning, like many residents of the 10th District and those across the city, I was notified of a shelter-in-place order after law enforcement officials were searching for a suspect who shot a Milwaukee County Sheriff's deputy after fleeing the scene of a traffic stop near West Adler and South 68th Streets.It was quite a shock to see the location detailed in the notification, because that neighborhood is safe and quiet.I want to extend my gratitude to the Sheriff's Department, Milwaukee Police Department, and West Allis Police Department for their swift and collaborative response to this incident, and I wish the deputy who was injured in the line of duty a full and speedy recovery.Deputies later encountered a person who they considered suspicious near S. 60th and W. Main, and after issuing commands to the individual, they heard a single shot. Upon approaching the man they noticed he sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound and had died.I know this incident was truly worrisome for many neighbors who reside in the area, particularly in the early morning hours when individuals are preparing for work or to send their kids off to school. It truly was a case where the location of the traffic stop dictated where the incident would likely unfold (a normally quiet and peaceful neighborhood).As additional details become available, I will be sure to keep residents up to date as we work to keep our community as safe as possible.Again I want to extend my thanks to the deputies and officers who rushed to the area to protect us and to apprehend the suspects, and we thank God the deputy’s injuries are not life threatening."

County Executive David Crowley issued a statement saying in part:

“I share the frustration that I hear from residents concerning the reckless, violent, and unnecessary incidents taking place in our neighborhoods all too often. We are seeing how the pandemic, economic pressures, family needs, and other stressors are taking their toll on all of us. It is a difficult and sobering time for our community right now.“Milwaukee County is committed to meeting the needs of our residents. Our vision is to achieve racial equity and improve public health across the county, but we also know that healthy neighborhoods are safe neighborhoods. We create safe and healthy blocks by recognizing the humanity in each and every one of our neighbors and working to ensure their needs are met. “We take the health and safety of all of our residents seriously. We’ve worked hard to move services upstream and meet people where they are to make sure their needs are fulfilled. We are committed to our task of achieving racial and equity and becoming the healthiest county in Wisconsin, but we cannot do this alone, or it will fail, and our region will never realize its true potential.

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