Memories of the victims of the 2020 mass shooting
When you walk into Johnny Hall’s home on the north side of Milwaukee, you’ll quickly notice a wall with about two dozen saved photographs of his loved ones.
He catches a couple in particular, showing his sister, Teresa Thomas, and teenage children, Tiera Agee and Demetrius Thomas.
“Days like now I’d be there,” Hall said on a recent sunny Friday night. “My sister would cook.”
Tuesday is the first anniversary of the shooting that took Hall’s three parents and two other teenagers who lived with them at the time, Marcus Stokes and Lakeitha Stokes.
The five victims were shot inside the house they shared with the suspect along the 2800 block of North 12th Street in the North Division neighborhood on the north side of Milwaukee. It was the second mass shooting experienced by Milwaukee in a historically violent 2020, just two months after five people shot dead at Molson Coors complex.
12th Street shooting suspect Christopher P. Stokes, who is linked to several of the victims, has been charged with five counts of first degree intentional homicide. Stokes, who has a history of domestic violence convictions dating from 2002, has pleaded not guilty, but a trial date has yet to be set after Stokes underwent several mental health exams.
Hall still mourns the loss of his family members. He has said over the past year that he has had small house parties in remembrance of them on their birthdays. He remembers playing basketball with his nephew, taking his niece to school and swimming with his sister as a child.
Waiting for the trial to continue has been its own burden on Hall, who is anxious for Stokes to be held accountable.
“He’s a monster,” Hall said of Stokes. “He has no consideration for human life or for those who have welcomed him as well. For me, he doesn’t deserve to live. We need sentencing and we need it now. Justice must be served. “
The one-year anniversary comes as homicides in the city remain at heightened levels in 2021. In an eight-day period starting April 18, at least 10 people, including three minors, have been killed by gun violence , according to the police.
“No one can stop this brutal violence except us,” Alds. Russell Stamper II and Khalif Rainey, who represent two districts in the north of the country hard hit by gun violence, said in a statement Friday.
“As a community, we must come together and work to protect our neighborhoods from this brutality, otherwise we run the risk of losing more of our precious children to gun violence. We urge the community to work together to end this behavior. “
‘They mean the world to me’
Hall said he frequently visited his sister’s apartment on North 12th Street. He said his sister, Teresa, 41, was a “very kind” mother. Disabled, she found it hard to move around, but she “gave you her shirt over her back” as a guest at her house.
Her daughter, Tiera, 16, wanted to be an interior decorator or fashion designer as an adult, Hall said. Her brother, Demetrius, 15, loved to play basketball and video games with friends.
“Being with them meant a lot to me,” said Hall, 40. “They represent the world to me.
At one point, the family welcomed Marcus, 19, and Lakeitha Stokes, 17 – siblings who were also linked to the suspect – after the two had nowhere to go. Hall didn’t know them too, but he said Marcus helped support the family with a job at a fast food restaurant while Lakeitha went to school.
The Sentinel Journal could not reach Marcus and Lakeitha’s family, but Hall said they were considered part of Teresa Thomas’ family.
On April 27, 2020, police were called to the home shortly before 1 p.m. after the suspect called 911 and said he “just slaughtered my whole familySaid the criminal complaint. When officers arrived, they found the suspect waiting for them on the porch, holding the sole survivor of the shooting, a 3-year-old granddaughter of Teresa Thomas, according to a recently released report by the county medical examiner’s office. from Milwaukee.
Police estimated the shooting took place around 5 a.m. that morning, based on statements from neighbors who said they heard a “booming” noise overnight, according to the report. By the time the police arrived, the victims were cold to the touch.
Court documents do not indicate a reason.
“I never thought something like this would happen to someone like me, or someone like (Teresa Thomas),” Hall said. “She never did anything wrong with anyone. The woman never even had a traffic ticket.
Stokes court case reinstated
Meanwhile, the trial of suspect Christopher Stokes, 44, blocked for three months last year after the court found he lacked “a substantial ability to understand court proceedings,” according to court records online.
After Stokes received treatment from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Milwaukee County Judge Michelle Havas returned to the case last September. Stokes has so far pleaded not guilty, but it seems likely that his sanity will remain the main concern.
Stokes was assessed by two doctors to determine if he qualifies for what’s called an NGI plea, not guilty due to mental illness or fault. A defendant entering a plea argues that at the time he committed a crime, mental illness or fault prevented him from assessing the wrongfulness of his action or from conforming his conduct to the law.
Stokes is scheduled to appear for another plea hearing on June 2. In an interview with the Sentinel Journal on Monday, Stokes attorney Nathan Opland-Dobs did not rule out an NGI plea for his client.