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State. Rep. Ortiz-Velez caught in drive-by shooting on same day of nephew's funeral, she says

Gideon Simos
Posted at 7:51 AM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 13:52:09-05

MILWAUKEE — State. Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) says she and a family member were caught in a drive-by shooting on the same day the family attended the funeral of the lawmaker's 3-year-old nephew, who died in a house fire in January.

Ortiz-Velez's office said in a statement Tuesday she and the mother of her nephews were caught in a drive-by shooting from a passing car right outside her home on the city's south side about a month ago on Feb. 4. The car then drove off, and luckily no one was injured in the incident, she says.

“We were bringing dinner home for my grieving family when someone driving by starting shooting at a pedistriatian [sic] walking by my car," said Ortiz-Velez in the statement. "The pedistrian than dove behind my truck for cover all while the assailant continued to shoot in our direction."

As TMJ4 News reported in January, her 3-year-old nephew Gideon Simos died from burn injuries suffered at a house fire at 5th and Madison.

According to the medical examiner's investigation, Gideon was asleep with his parents in the bedroom when the father woke up to a fire in the living room. He attempted to put out the fire but it quickly spread and became out of control.

The parents began moving three of their children out of the house. The mother went to get the child, and while doing so she suffered smoke inhalation and lacerations.

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5th and Madison

A GoFundMe has been created for the mother and child who were injured.

In her statement on Tuesday, State Rep. Ortiz-Velez, who is also a Milwaukee County Supervisor, expressed her support for Joint Resolution 107, which would allow judges to consider several aspects when deciding bail. Those include the need to protect the public, suspects' criminal records and the seriousness of the charges.

According to Ortiz-Velez:

“There are many reasons I voted in favor of Assembly Joint Resolution 107, We must do all we can to ensure public safety. Assembly Joint Resolution 107 requires judges to determine whether an individual poses a public threat when setting bail amounts.

We need to protect the public from individuals who may pose a public threat. I would prefer a no cash bail system, because we could keep people in custody that we don't want to bail out dangerous persons, at the same time ensuring we don't have people in custody who are non-violent offenders. The truth is we have limited resources and we need to have room for people who do pose a threat to the public. The larger problem is how the State has systematically underfunded Milwaukee's public safety. In order to protect the public, we need to receive our fair share of funding from the State."

The Waukesha Christmas parade attack sparked renewed support for the legislation. It is mostly backed by state Republicans, but is also supported by some Democrats including Ortiz-Velez.

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