Three people, including two children, were shot and a house was set on fire as hundreds of people gathered outside a Milwaukee house where police had conducted an investigation about two missing teenage girls.
The girls, who are 13 and 15, were found on Wednesday morning, officials told the Journal-Sentinel. Authorities were also investigating whether the teens were victims of sex trafficking, said Sgt. Sheronda Grant.
“That’s something that we are looking into,” she told the paper. “So that’s under review. However, I cannot confirm that that is the case.”
The crowd, according to the newspaper, included neighbors who were curious, Black Lives Matter protesters, and people who were angry with police.
Police used tear gas and nonlethal munitions to disperse the crowd on Tuesday night, officials told The Associated Press.
Authorities said that the three people who were shot weren’t shot by police, AP reported. Police Chief Alfonso Morales said the unrest amounted to vigilantism and said people were reacting to rumors.
“We investigate the information that is given to us. We can’t allow an unruly crowd to determine what that investigation is,” Morales said.
As people gathered around the house, some smashed windows before setting fire to it, officials said.
Two 14-year-old children and a 24-year-old man were shot in the unrest, and their injuries are said to be non-life-threatening, according to officials.
Morales told the paper that a group of people went looking for the girls at the home, adding there was an “exchange of gunfire” between the crowd that tried to storm the house and a person inside.
Morales told the Journal-Sentinel that seven officers and a firefighter were injured in the incident.
“This whole chain of events could have been avoided,” Morales said. “And my heart goes out for the people that live in this community.”
“What you had today is vigilantism,” the chief said, adding, “you had people take the law into their own hands and run off of information that has not been proven.”
“We need to investigate that. That’s what the police is here for,” he said, adding that there was misinformation being spread among the group.
“We have to be allowed to conduct our investigation and not chase a crowd and take that information from that crowd to be factual,” he said.
According to the Journal-Sentinel, some in the group wanted to see whether there was sex trafficking going on at the home after hearing rumors.
No suspects have been arrested in the incident. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Milwaukee Police.