Milwaukee homicide, police chase; Chicago men now charged

Four Chicago men are now charged in connection to a Milwaukee homicide and high-speed police chase that ended downtown.

Prosecutors said the game was to steal high-end SUVs, but when a man tried to stop them, he was killed. Two of the four men accused in the case – 30-year-old Jovani Velazquez and 17-year-old Tramaine Walton – made their court appearances on Wednesday.

"A man was shot and killed, an innocent civilian who stepped in to stop Mr. Velazquez and his co-defendants from stealing another person's car," said Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Dan Flaherty.

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The victim, 41-year-old Stanley Smith Jr., was shot four times – including twice in the head – on May 5. Prosecutors said the four men now charged are responsible in Smith's death.

"They routinely come from Chicago up to Milwaukee and steal high-end Jeep SRTs and Trackhawk SUVs," Flaherty said. "Our information is they sell them way less than what they’re actually worth. But nonetheless, we’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg."


Tramaine Walton, Jovani Velazquez, Lamont Stanton, Correnthis Neal

The other two men charged in the case, 18-year-old Correnthis Neal and 19-year-old Lamont Stanton, are in custody.

Court filings state Smith was at a bar near 56th and North when someone said people were breaking into cars nearby. A witness said she saw Smith get into a tussle with masked men near his SUV, and then they shot Smith and took off in a stolen Jeep SUV.

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Milwaukee police later learned that police in Addison, Illinois were surveilling Neal and Walton, investigating high-end SUV thefts. They later learned cellphones tied back to Stanton and Velazquez were in the same locations as the stolen vehicle and the homicide.

Fast forward to May 21. A man said his Jeep Trackhawk was stolen in Illinois, and he tracked it to 22nd and Greenfield in Milwaukee – where they were trying to steal another Jeep. A worker confronted them, and they took off. Not much later, police said a cop spotted the Jeep in an alley near 45th and Auer – and it took off.

That led to a high-speed chase that ended in downtown Milwaukee. Neal, Stanton and Walton were arrested at the scene. Velazquez was arrested in St. Francis three days later.

Velazquez's bond was set at $1 million, while Walton's was set at $500,000. Neal and Stanton are due in court Thursday.