A Milwaukee teenager was arrested Wednesday and has since been charged in a case that featured a witness who relentlessly pursued the teenager and two accomplices, then detained the youth until police arrived.
Brandon I. Smith, 18, was charged Saturday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with one count of operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent and one count of felony bail jumping. If convicted, he faces up to 9½ years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
It was far from the first run-in with the law for Smith. He was already facing three other counts of vehicle theft, two in March and one May 6, and had made a preliminary appearance in court on the latest charge that very morning.
According to police reports and the criminal complaint:
At about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, witnesses saw and heard a 1991 Plymouth Acclaim smash through a fence in the 4700 block of North 100th Street, a Wauwatosa address, and then smack into a car parked behind it on the Milwaukee side. The driver jumped out and ran to another car, which then sped away.
A 43-year-old Milwaukee man told police he was in his apartment in the 9800 block of West Hampton Avenue when he heard a crash from behind his building and looked out just in time to see the Plymouth come through the fence and hit his neighbor’s Ford Explorer.
He said the driver ran to a 1999 Chrysler Concorde that had followed him into the lot, which then “tore out.” He said there were two other individuals in the Chrysler.
Citizen's dogged persistence pays off
The man ran downstairs to tell his neighbor her SUV had been hit, then jumped into his own car and gave chase.
He spotted the Chrysler in the parking lot at , 9800 W. Glendale Ave., and pulled up to confront the suspects. They took off again, and he chased them until the teens jumped the curb in the 10900 block of West Derby Avenue and abandoned the car.
He then chased them on foot until they hopped a fence and got away. But one of them dropped a book bag, which their pursuer grabbed.
He got back in his car and again began searching for the suspects, and soon spotted Smith inside the PK Pantry at 10707 W. Hampton. He went inside and demanded that Smith come outside and talk to him.
Smith did so, and the man managed to detain him until police arrived.
Smith was found to have a small orange slip of paper in his pocket that the arresting officer recognized as coming from a preliminary Circuit Court appearance – dated that morning, and for the same crime.
Book bag exposes second known suspect
As police caught up with the chain of events, they found both the Plymouth and the Chrysler with their engines still running where they were abandoned, with no keys and damage to their ignitions indicating they had been hot-wired.
They quickly learned that both cars had been reported stolen in Milwaukee just a short time earlier.
When the citizen who had pursued and caught Smith turned over the book bag he had recovered, officers found school papers with the name of a 15-year-old Milwaukee boy known to Milwaukee police. He was being sought for questioning.