Two Milwaukee teenagers were charged with reckless first-degree murder in the fatal shot at Purcell Pearson, 22 during an attempt to steal glasses.
Pearson was recently graduated and president of Alpha Phi Alpha at UW-Whitewater. He was a student leader on campus, involved in student organizations and was applying for graduate school.
Pearson had been selling designer glasses for three or four months, according to the criminal complaint.
It would connect with potential buyers through internet applications like Facebook and OfferUp. On February 6, Pearson received a message on the OfferUp app from a profile with the name “Pablo Fernandez” asking about glasses.
Pearson and the buyer set up an appointment at block 2,200 on West Wisconsin Avenue, outside Pearson’s apartment.
According to the complaint:
Around 12:15 pm Pearson approached the buyer’s van. Inside the van were Tyrell Joseph and Ismael Moreno, both 17 years old. Surveillance footage from a nearby gas station confirms that Joseph and Moreno were in the van.
Almost three minutes later, the van is seen in surveillance footage leaving with Pearson hanging out of the driver’s side window.
Initially traveling east on West Wisconsin Avenue, the van hit a snow bank and crossed to the west lanes, traveling east.
The van stops completely, where the footage shows the front passenger reaching out to Pearson. The victim then falls to the ground and the van leaves.
Milwaukee police officer Luis Madrigal, who happened to be traveling east on West Wisconsin Avenue, witnessed Pearson hanging out of the van’s window before briefly losing sight of her after she hit the snow bank.
As Madrigal approached North 23rd Street and West Wisconsin Avenue, he heard a vehicle braking, followed by a loud “pop”, according to the complaint.
Madrigal then saw the van head east on the West Wisconsin Avenue lanes before turning on North 22nd Street.
Surveillance images show Pearson getting up, running a short distance and falling to the ground.
Madrigal left his squadron and approached Pearson, discovering that he had no pulse. Medical assistance was provided, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and Pearson was pronounced dead at the scene.
After a search on Pearson’s phone, the Milwaukee homicide detectives were able to obtain a phone number associated with the “Pablo Fernandez” OfferUp account. The phone number was linked to an adult woman who, in a previous interview unrelated to the Milwaukee police, referred to Joseph as her son.
A Milwaukee policeman spotted the van parked in a garage at 3800 block on North 17th Street. That same day, detectives discovered that the Joseph family lived in 3800 North 16th Street, across the alley where the car was parked.
Joseph’s grandfather confirmed with detectives that the van was his grandson’s vehicle. In addition, after seeing photos of Moreno, he confirmed that the two teenagers were always together, according to the complaint.
Joseph and Moreno were charged with reckless first-degree murder and, if convicted, face up to 60 years in prison.
Milwaukee police are still looking for Joseph and Moreno. Anyone with information should contact the Milwaukee police at (414) 935-7360 or Crime Stoppers at (414) 224-TIPS or the P3 Tips app to obtain a cash reward.
This article was originally published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Two Milwaukee teenagers accused of reckless first-degree murder in a fatal shooting at UW-Whitewater graduation