Madison police warn start of ‘alarming trend’ as gun violence spikes

MADISON, Wis. — Madison police Interim Chief Vic Wahl said the city has seen a spike in gun violence over the past week and a half after recovering about 150 shell casings.

The number of shots fired incidents during the second quarter of 2020 reflects an almost 80-percent increase compared to last year. Monthly totals of shots fired for May and June reached record highs, according to Wahl.

“We can see that it’s not just a spike, it’s a trend,” Wahl said. “It’s alarming to us, and with that quantity of gunfire and shots fired in the city, we are fortunate there weren’t more fatalities and there weren’t more injuries.”

Madison police’s Violent Crime Unit is investigating all of the incidents. Officials said most incidents are believed to be targeted.

Wahl also addressed the proposal from Madison City Council members to ban police from using tear gas, mace and other lethal projectiles when responding to crowd control. He said if enacted, those measures would significantly reduce the department’s ability to respond to large, unruly crowds.

“Basically, we would not be able to do that, and I don’t think that’s an outcome or situation anybody in our city would desire, particularly after what we’ve gone through the last six weeks,” Wahl said.

Madison police announced a third-party research group would conduct a review of the department’s handling of civil unrest.