After celebrating her 35th birthday at a bar into early Friday, Sylvia Ware and some friends pulled up on the block where she lives to find more than 100 people partying in the street.The one-way block on N. 28th St. draws a crowd most nights, she said.
One of Ware's friends, Theresa "Two-Two" Raddle, 23, got out first and went to talk with another woman. That's when Ware heard the popping. At first she thought it was fireworks, an early Fourth of July celebration.
"Then I felt the burning in my back and I knew I was shot," Ware said. "I couldn't believe it. It was like I was in a dream."
Four people - two men, Raddle and another woman - were killed in the early-morning shooting on N. 28th St. between W. Clarke and W. Wright streets, police said. A man and Ware were wounded.
In all, eight people were hit by bullets in three separate shootings Friday morning, and five died. Another man was killed Friday evening.
Police identified the victims of the quadruple homicide as Kendrick L. Jackson, 34, Jacoby E. Claybrooks, 28, and Raddle, all of Milwaukee; and Marielle Fisher, 27, of Glendale.
The motive was not immediately apparent, and police said they weren't getting much help from the public. No one had been arrested as of 8 p.m., police said.
"There were more than 100 people in the area, and we know they know what happened. We need them to call us," said police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz.
It was the first quadruple homicide in nearly 16 years in Milwaukee, the last one coming in a drug house shooting on W. North Ave. in December 1992, police said.
Schwartz said police were not sure whether more than one person fired. Residents said the shooter came out from between two houses and fired more than 30 times. At least one bullet whizzed through the living room of a house across the street.
Raddle, Claybrooks and Jackson were pronounced dead on the street, Schwartz said. Fisher was rushed to Froedtert Hospital, where she died.
Ware was treated and released. A 31-year-old man also was hit and is expected to survive.
Raddle was one of six children; her brother was killed in Chicago 10 years ago, friends said. She was full of life, a positive force who could lift the mood of others.
"She was an entertainer," said a friend who asked not to be identified. "She would get up when no one else would and dance. She was always in a cheerful mode."
Ware said she had been at Questions bar, in the 3000 block of W. North Ave., Thursday night partying and there were no problems there. They came home at about 2:30 a.m. and found the block jammed with people.
"There was a lot going on, but that is every night," Ware said, adding that many of those who come to party don't live on the block, but did at one time.
As the shots were fired, Ware felt the burning. She got out of the car and saw Raddle in the street and collapsed.
"She was lying next to me in a pool of blood," Ware said, tears running down her face.
Her brother, James Ware, 44, heard the shots and came out to find a chaotic scene. He said Raddle and Fisher were shot in the face and head.
"I saw her in the street. She wasn't moving," James Ware said of Raddle.
James Ware, who grew up on the block with his sister and lives there now, said there are not that many shootings on the street, but when they happen, it seems they are deadly. He called this a "wake-up call."
"Ain't nothing going to be the same. It's going to be quiet," he said. "You see people you know laid out in the street with sheets on them, that's something to see."
Sylvia Ware said she wasn't targeted.
"I know I am innocent," she said. "I was just trying to enjoy my birthday."
A makeshift memorial of teddy bears, balloons and other mementos was strapped to a tree by noon on Friday. People gathered at it, quietly talking, crying and hugging.
"What's going on?" said Lenard Randall, 24, with Light of the World Ministries, which is holding a Stomp Out Violence event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today with Mothers Against Gun Violence on the 700 block of N. 29th St. "What type of environment do we live in? These sorts of things can be resolved without violence."
The shooting scene is 10 blocks from the site of a Milwaukee police public roll call last month, a tactic intended to show police presence in the neighborhood.
There were three other apparently unrelated shootings in Milwaukee early Friday:
• At 3:43 a.m., a 25-year-old man was fatally shot near 400 W. Maple St. when someone opened fire from a car, Schwartz said. It may be gang-related. The victim's name was not released.
• At 12:50 a.m., a 43-year-old woman was shot in the head by a 33-year-old man in a car near N. 6th and W. Locust streets. The victim, who was not named, is expected to survive. The man was arrested.
• At 7:50 p.m., a 34-year-old man was fatally shot in the chest at N. 32nd and W. Vine streets, said Lt. James Timm of the Police Department's Criminal Investigation Bureau.
With the six homicides, there have been 39 killings this year, compared with 49 at the same time last year, Schwartz said.