‘They weren’t firecrackers. They were gunshots’: Neighbors, family of Maurice Bowman, reflect of Tuesday night shooting

MADISON, Wis. – The family of 24-year-old Maurice Bowman says his celebration of life was never supposed to end up the way it did – with three in the hospital, in two in police custody.

“Maurice has a son who has family members from multiple cities,” said Bowman’s aunt, Jessiann. “So the park was the best place for us to gather and remember him before the burial today.”

Jessiann says while family tried to limit the size of the gathering, it quickly grew large.

“It definitely got full here very fast, and not every person here was related to Maurice,” she said.

However, when bullets were fired shortly after 9 p.m., Bowman’s aunt had left the park for the night and gone to work. While she would miss the next moments, neighbors would not.

“I heard what I thought sounded like more firecrackers, but it was in a rapid succession and sustained,” said a neighbor named Julia, who preferred not to use her full name. “We heard people screaming, and we realized something was terribly wrong. These were not firecrackers. They were not fireworks. They were gunshots.”

Julia says she and her husband saw people running down the hill towards their home.

“It was dark, but you could see bodies all running,” she said.  “Just chaos in the hill. Chaos in the park. Chaos with people running everywhere and screaming. At that point, our thought process is that we don’t know how late this is, we don’t know how many people or how many guns.”

The family went inside and called 911. Today, Bowman’s family says they are upset with what happened.

“It makes no sense,” his aunt said.  “The trauma, after trauma, after trauma. At some point, we need to step in and say, ‘You know what, I don’t care what anyone else in this world is doing’.”

Most importantly, Bowman’s family says Tuesday night’s shooting should not be a reflection of his life.

“I don’t want this to be a reflection of Maurice, because this was not Maurice’s repass,” she said. “Don’t say that we came up here and were in “gang mode” or “fighting mode”, because that’s not what happened.”