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Toddler killed in what Milwaukee police consider to be a violent crime hotspot

By Ben Jordan,


A 1-year-old girl was tragically shot and killed inside a vehicle on Saturday near 19th and Atkinson.

First responders rushed Zy’aire Nevels to the hospital where she died from her injuries.

The shooting happened in an area police consider to be one of the worst crime hotspots in the city.

Arlington Heights is a neighborhood Ashanti Hamilton used to call home.

"This is part of who I am,” he said. "This is my extended family."

Police data shows four people have been shot and killed in this small pocket on Milwaukee’s north side this year. The latest strikes a nerve for the city’s Office of Violence Prevention director.

"Children are dying because of the inability of people to be able to handle their disputes in a more amicable way,” Hamilton said.

A few months ago, Hamilton stood alongside Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee Police Chief Jeff Norman to announce the city is taking a new approach to combat crime.

The plan centers around pouring a variety of services on a micro-level where data shows crime is a major problem.

Arlington Heights is one of the outlined neighborhoods. TMJ4

"What we know is that when you combine the hotspots together, that small geographic area of the city is responsible for 40 percent of the homicides and non-fatal shootings,” Hamilton said.

While the M.P.D. plan says it’s utilizing officers from other districts to have a bigger presence in these neighborhoods during peak crime hours, Hamilton says his office is responsible for offering this community alternatives to police.

"What works for a neighborhood like this might be a little bit different from what would work in a more affluent neighborhood,” he said.

Hamilton says that means coordinating free youth activities, counseling and training for people who live in the neighborhood to safely and promptly mediate disputes.

"Some of them have happened right here in some of these basements in the homes right here on this street,” Hamilton said. TMJ4
Arlington Heights

“Do you think this micro-level plan will make a difference for this crime hotspot?” TMJ4 reporter Ben Jordan asked.

"I'm hoping that it does,” Hamilton replied. “One of the things that I think is completely different from any other strategy that's been employed in these communities before is that we're heavily dependent on people who live in these communities."

A different approach three months into the process, where a toddler’s tragedy shows Hamilton more work is left to be done.

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