‘We have more work to do’: As Madison police investigate weekend homicides, residents remain on edge

MADISON, Wis. — A violent weekend that saw two people killed in separate homicides in Madison is leaving city residents, especially those on the north side, feeling unsettled as police search for those responsible.

The first homicide happened just before 8:40 p.m. Friday in the 1700 block of Northport Drive. Police said the victim, who the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office identified Monday as 30-year-old Corey Mitchell of Fitchburg, died at the scene after being shot following an altercation.

Around three hours later, police found a 35-year-old man had been stabbed in the 900 block of Mayfair Avenue on the city’s east side. He died at an area hospital.

RELATED: One person shot, one person stabbed in separate Madison homicides

On Sunday morning, police responded to a report of shots fired on Picnic Point near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. That report was later deemed unsubstantiated.

The weekend’s violence has police on alert.

“It does tell us that, you know, we have more work to do here in Madison,” Police Chief Shon Barnes told News 3 Now on Monday. “We have some more work to do around interpersonal violence and we have some work to do around how we respond to those persons that are in crisis or conflict.”

Since Friday, officers have been combing the scenes of both homicides, looking for cameras, searching the victims’ homes and speaking to witnesses who Barnes said have so far been responsive.

“They say this is not the type of behavior that we want and they call more and they let us know more and then they try their best to make sure these conflicts do not happen,” Barnes said.

Madison has now seen six homicides in 2022; last year, the city saw 11.

Late last month, an 18-year-old man was fatally shot near the intersection of Vahlen Street and North Sherman Avenue several blocks from Friday night’s shooting.

RELATED: Madison police ‘sad and frustrated’ as gun violence leads to another young person’s death

In the wake of that shooting and just a day before Friday’s shooting, north side residents gathered at Warner Park — steps from where Mitchell took his last breaths — to try to find solutions.

‘I’m anxious at night’

The violence hits close to home for Mark True, a cook for Dane County’s Head Start child development program. He works at a location on Northport Drive near where Friday’s shooting happened.

True told News 3 Now he’s fed up with the violence coming so close to his coworkers and the kids he works with, many of whom already come from volatile situations and who shouldn’t have to fear for their lives.

“I love my profession, I love what I do, but the environment is becoming more risky I guess you could say,” he said.

True’s wife is now wondering if he should go back to work at Head Start this month at all. She’s not alone.

“I’m anxious at night,” he said. “We go back to school in a little bit less than two weeks. I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder if, ‘My God, I’m just a cook, what if I get shot trying to make the kids some oatmeal and cut up their pineapple?’ It’s a big price to pay for a low-wage job.”

While Head Start does the best it can, True said safety shouldn’t be the group’s responsibility.

“We’re a not-for-profit; we can’t put security guards everywhere, we can’t put metal detectors,” he said.

It’s up to the city and the community, True said, to provide a better support network for families and, “do more than just talk, more than just council meetings, more than just, ‘Oh, we’re going to change the speed limit.'”

True said he wants to keep seeing the kids he works with go down the path of success and not get caught up or killed in the violence.

“I just don’t want a whole generation of kids to get forgotten because of their environment,” he said.

Trying to contain spillover violence

The weekend’s violence was not limited to Madison. Police in Janesville responded to a report that a man who had been arguing with a woman outside a home early Sunday morning shot at a person who called 911 to report the incident.

The woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the argument. Monday afternoon, police arrested the man who they said fired multiple shots.

No one was hit by the gunfire. While that’s a relief, Janesville Police Lt. Mike Blaser said it could have been much worse.

RELATED: Man who shot at 911 caller reporting argument arrested, Janesville police say

“There was a young child sleeping in the residence, and when we look at this, this could’ve been a very different outcome depending on where those bullets go,” he said.

Police in Janesville are paying close attention to violence in surrounding communities to try to prevent issues from spilling over into their community.

“We look into those incidents and try to see if there are any ties to our city so that we can try to head off problems here, so we pay attention to what’s coming out of other jurisdictions to help keep our residents safe,” Blaser said.