MILWAUKEE (AP) — Two missing teenage girls were never at a Milwaukee house that was set on fire during unrest that saw three people shot and 10 police officers and a firefighter injured as a large unruly crowd gathered at the scene of the investigation, police said Wednesday.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd Tuesday night as tensions rose and rumors spread online about the girls, ages 13 and 15. Police said they were investigating whether they were victims of sex trafficking. Police said during interviews the girls denied ever being at the house or knowing anyone who lived there, and there was no evidence human trafficking occurred at the house.
The three people shot weren’t shot by police, authorities said. Police Chief Alfonso Morales denounced the unrest as vigilantism and said some people were reacting to information that had not been proven.
“We investigate the information that is given to us. We can’t allow an unruly crowd to determine what that investigation is,” Morales said.
Both girls have been found and are with their families, police said Wednesday. A preliminary investigation found no information to suggest the teenagers ever were at the house that was set on fire or that any foul play happened there, police said.
Police had been to the home earlier Tuesday, as a crowd began to grow. By mid-afternoon, the crowd surged toward the house, as some in the group wanted to look for evidence that supported the rumors of sex trafficking, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Some broke into the house, while others smashed windows and by evening the house was set on fire and the unrest escalated.
Police said two 14-year-old children and a 24-year-old man were shot during the unrest. Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening. Some officers were hit by bricks and pieces of concrete thrown by people in the crowd. The injured firefighter suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was taken to a hospital, police said.