RACINE – Two people were shot at Racine’s Graceland Cemetery Thursday afternoon during a funeral for a man killed by police.
Just before 2:30 pm, multiple shots were fired at the cemetery, located along the 3600 block of Osborne Boulevard, Racine police said in a tweet.
“There are victims but unknown how many at this time,” police originally said, but later confirmed to the Journal Sentinel that two adults were struck by gunfire.
The shooting occurred at the interment for Da’Shontay L. King Sr., the man fatally shot by Racine police May 20, King’s sister, Natasha Mullen said.
“We were at the gravesite trying to get prepared to bury him, and bullets started flying everywhere,” she said.
A Racine police officer fatally shot King, 37, during a traffic stop about two weeks ago. Police said they were carrying out a search warrant on a vehicle when King, who they said had a handgun, ran from the car.
The officer, Zachary B. Brenner, then fatally shot King. It’s unclear exactly why Brenner shot King. Racine police said King “took an action” that prompted Brenner to shoot, but the Wisconsin Department of Justice did not mention such an action in a statement.
King’s funeral service took place at noon Thursday at the Fellowship of Christian Believers church, 703 Washington Ave., according to his obituary. His interment at the cemetery was to follow.
It was not immediately clear how many people were shot or the extent of their injuries. Preliminary emergency radio traffic indicated that first responders were having a difficult time trying to figure out the number of victims at first.
A Racine Fire Department official directed a reporter to the police department for information.
An official at the Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home and Crematory, which hosted King’s funeral, declined to comment.
“Today’s heinous shooting at a cemetery, while a family was already mourning the loss of a loved one, is a new low for these perpetrators of violence in our community,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason said in a statement.
“The violence has got to stop! Revenge is not the answer,” Mason added.
Mason also called on the Racine police to enforce a curfew for all people under the age of 18. All juvenile residents must be home by 11 pm, the mayor said.
Witnesses recount ‘spray of bullets’
Ken Rorek, who lives in the neighborhood, called the shooting unexpected and sad.
“Regardless of what happened to (King), it’s still a sad situation. There should be no retaliation, or whatever happened. Let the family bury him in peace,” he said.
Tre Brantley, 19, was playing basketball at Lockwood Park, next to the cemetery, when suddenly “bullets were whistling past us.”
Brantley said it’s remarkable that no one at the park was hit.
“If we were in different spots on the court, I’m pretty sure one of us would of been hit,” he said. “There was a lot of people at the park.”
Brantley said about 30 minutes before the shooting, a group of children were playing on the basketball court with someone who might have been a teacher.
Brantley, who lives nearby, commented on the spread of gun violence.
“You move out of bad neighborhoods only for the same thing to happen here,” he said.
Alissa Miller was in the backyard of her parents’ house, across from the cemetery, with her children and other relatives when she heard a “spray of bullets.”
“Immediately, we knew it was gunshots,” she said.
The adults began telling the children to go inside. Then, in the next moment, they heard screams.
“It was terrified, horrific screaming,” Miller said. “It was unmistakable.”
Miller estimates 20 to 30 bullets were fired in a quick barrage, followed by a handful of single shots.
The family got inside and called 911. They made sure neighbors took cover too. Then they watched from the windows as police combed the grass of the nearby Jewish cemetery — separated from the Graceland Cemetery by a fence — for bullets.
Given how terrifying it was to hear the gunfire and screaming, Miller said she can’t imagine how traumatic the experience was for those who were attending the interment.
Miller, who grew up in the home across from the cemetery, said the outburst of violence is highly unusual for the neighborhood.
“It’s been such a safe and quiet neighborhood where everybody knows everybody,” she said. “I don’t know that anything remotely close to this has ever happened.”
Ascension All Saints Hospital, also next to the cemetery, went on lockdown, according to a hospital spokesperson. The emergency department was still accepting patients and people with previously scheduled appointments could keep them.
The hospital did not say how many people it was treating from the shooting.
Police blocked several streets in the area.
“I was just trying to bury my brother and almost lost my life doing so,” Mullen said.
Contact reporter Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.