North Side Residents Attend Meeting Following Slaying

Residents on Madison’s north side gathered Thursday night to remember the victim of a fatal shooting and to help prevent future violence.

SLIDESHOW:

The community meeting at Mendota Elementary School began on a solemn note. Songs filled the gymnasium as neighbors remembered the young life lost that brought them together.

The victim of the Oct. 20 shooting in the 800 block of Troy Drive was Jonathan Wilson. The 20-year-old would’ve become a father on Sunday.

A criminal complaint said the shooting was a planned attack in which one gang was retaliating against another. The complaint said the incident started with one person earlier that night chasing a rival gang member’s younger brother with a 2-by-4.

Demetrius Matticx, 18, is facing a first-degree intentional homicide charge. Police said he was the one who shot Wilson. Police have arrested six other suspects, who are facing charges of being party to the crime.

The community came together Thursday night with the goal of preventing other slayings in the community.

“I don’t know what the right answer would be, but I would like to let my kids go outside and play, and not have to be worried that there’s going to be bullets flying around,” said Marissa Adams, who lives near shooting scene.

The Madison Police Department’s North District said that until the fatal shooting, the main issues in the Vera Court neighborhood had been disputes among juveniles and domestic violence calls.

Longtime neighborhood advocate Tom Solyst emphasized the good happening in the neighborhood.

Some 70 elementary and middle school children come to the Vera Court Neighborhood Center every day after school. Inside, the boys and girls do their homework and learn about good behavior and respect.

“I know the kids; I know the parents. It’s very much like all the kids in Madison,” said Solyst, the center’s executive director.

But Solyst said there are specific challenges in the neighborhood.

“A lot of our youth, once they get out of high school, don’t have a lot of options. There are a lot of kids hanging around,” said Solyst.

Despite city budget woes, Solyst said Mayor Paul Soglin has committed to providing the same amount of funding for the center next year.

Herenandis Burks’ children live in the neighborhood. He said he hopes a real solution can be found.

“If they had an actual neighborhood officer who got out and was more social with people I think that’ll help a lot,” he said.

As for the seven young men facing charges in this case, Burks said: “I’ve been to prison. Nobody wants to spend their youth in prison. If I could say anything to them, I would say learn from this mistake. Don’t make it a permanent part of your life; just grow from it.”

The alder for the district, Anita Weier, said she doesn’t have any official response to the shooting right now, but she called Thursday’s meeting to get residents’ feedback.

On Thursday, Madison police approved the release of the suspects’ mug shots. All seven suspects are due in court Nov. 9.