MILWAUKEE — The man who authorities say shot and killed a 16-year-old girl during an attempted robbery at Burger King on Capitol Drive has turned himself in to police.
Milwaukee police said Derrick D. Ellis turned himself in on Wednesday, 17 days after the deadly attempted robbery incident. Now, he is being charged with possession of a firearm by an outstate felon and homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon.
The District Attorney's office released the criminal complaint for Ellis Thursday, breaking down what happened on Jan. 2 that led to the death of 16-year-old Niesha Harris-Brazell.
The complaint says when police arrived, Brazell had already been shot and was lying near the drive-thru window. She was taken to the hospital, where she died. A medical examiner concluded that she died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Investigators took to surveillance video to figure out what happened. According to the complaint, the incident began at 10:13 p.m., just after the restaurant on Capitol Drive had closed. A vehicle pulled up to the window and the driver, identified as robbery suspect Antoine Edwards, began tapping on it.
At that time, a male employee went over and said something to Edwards, prompting him to drive away. The man then closed the window.
A few minutes later, the vehicle pulled back up to the window. At this time, Brazell was standing near the window and opened it. The video then shows Brazell backing away from the window and off to the side so she's no longer visible to Edwards, the complaint states.
The complaint says she then removed the cash drawer and held it as she called out to the other employees. She stood like that for around 40 seconds before Edwards opened his car door and pushed himself through the window.
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According to the criminal complaint, Edwards' shoulders, head, and both arms were through the window and he had a semiautomatic pistol. Brazell backed even further away and Edwards began waving his gun in her direction and reaching for the cash drawer.
At that point, Brazell had placed the drawer on the counter next to her. The two remained like that for around 20 seconds as Brazell continued to call to the other employees.
After those 20 seconds, the complaint says Edwards ducked out of the window and back into his car before driving off. Simultaneously, Brazell fell to the floor. However, surveillance video shows Edwards never fired his gun, prosecutors say.
The complaint goes on to say an employee inside the building at the time, identified as Ellis, went to a door that led to the drive-thru. He peered his head around the corner and subsequently fired a pistol towards the window.
Brazell was between Ellis and Edwards, in the line of fire.
In the complaint, prosecutors suggest Edwards' daughter may have been involved in staging the robbery as she was working there at the time of the crime. She has also been arrested.
Initially, she did not tell police what had happened that night at the Burger King, the complaint states. However, after police began suspecting her, she admitted to lying and said she was in on the plan to rob the place, prosecutors say. She identified Edwards as her father and Brazell as her best friend.
According to the complaint, Edwards' daughter said just days earlier, Edwards, herself, and Brazell planned to rob the restaurant. She said they all knew Brazell would be working the window and would be the one to hand over the money. The complaint says Ellis was not in on the plan.
In their statements, both Edwards and his daughter said they talked on the phone after he drove away from the window the first time. Edwards claimed he and Brazell talked as well and planned for him to pull around again and she'd hand over the money.
But Edwards' told police Brazell was taking too long to hand over the money which is why he pushed his way into the window, the complaint states.
Edwards' daughter told police she thinks Brazell panicked and decided not to go through with the robbery.
According to a criminal complaint, following the shooting Ellis crawled on the floor and collected the casings that were ejected from his gun. He then met with the restaurant manager who opened a safe. Ellis put a white object inside.
Ellis then left the restaurant without providing assistance to Brazell and never contacted the police to report what he saw or what happened. The complaint says police never found the casings.
Charges were filed against Ellis on January 6, and he turned himself in 12 days later/
Milwaukee police also arrested a 38-year-old woman for obstructing the investigation.
Edwards was arrested on Tuesday, though police did not identify him then.
Vigil for victim
At a vigil for the teen last Monday, a family member said they want the community to help find the suspect. "If it was your momma, your daddy, your sister, your niece, your grandma you’d want whoever knows something to speak up" said a woman who identified herself as the teen's aunt.
It was news that hit way too close to home for violence prevention advocate Derrick Rogers after he learned that the 16-year-old girl had been shot and killed overnight in Milwaukee at her job.
"My daughter is a high school senior and she is a cashier just west at Walgreens. To be faced with what she was faced with and then ultimately what happened, it just is touching me on a number of different levels," said 414 Life Executive Director, Derrick Rogers.
"So much of this is disturbing on so many levels. She was just going to a part-time job, just checking in, doing something, and making some extra dollars," said Rogers.
In a statement, officials at Burger King wrote, "Our deepest condolences go out to the victim's family and friends during this devastating time."
And after seeing yet another record-breaking year of homicides in Milwaukee, violence prevention officials say something has to change.