The Madison Police Department is actively searching for 23-year-old suspect Ronald Stephens after a shooting at a temporary men’s shelter at 200 N. First St. Monday night, according to an incident report.
At about 7 p.m., MPD officers responding to an unrelated medical call heard gunshots from inside the shelter. MPD reported the officers then entered the building and encountered two people. During the contact, an officer discharged their weapon but did not hit anyone, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
One of the people was already suffering from a gunshot wound when officers entered the building. The injured individual was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. The second injured person was initially detained, but is no longer believed to be involved, according to an update from Sgt. James Imoehl.
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The department said the missing suspect is wanted on charges of attempted homicide. Stephens may be armed and should be considered dangerous, according to MPD.
Safety teams were sent to the temporary shelter to provide care and resources for those impacted by the shooting. According to an Instagram post made by the UW BIPOC Coalition Tuesday morning, the safety team members were forced to give food, water, blankets and hand warmers through a fence because they were not allowed on the scene to help the displaced homeless individuals.
In the 31-minute video posted by the coalition on the night of the incident, a medic on the safety team said a man experiencing respiratory issues asked for their assistance several times over a period of eight minutes, but the team was denied access by MPD.
“[The man] eventually collapsed and medics had to hold him through the fence until MPD allowed him to be brought out to us. Medics began providing respiratory assistance and CPR and were able to stabilize him but this would not have been necessary had we had access to him sooner,” the UW BIPOC Coalition said on Instagram.
The two members of the safety team featured in the video posted by UW BIPOC said MPD almost let the man die and were not providing adequate care for those traumatized in this incident.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway asked the community in a statement to not equate criminality with homelessness in the aftermath of this incident.
“Madison shelters have been safely run and operated for decades, thanks to the dedication and hard work of many,” Rhodes-Conway said. “All of us, including patrons of shelter facilities and those who staff them, have a right to sleep and work in a safe environment.”
Rhodes-Conway added her team will be sitting down with their partners to review shelter safety and security procedures at this temporary site and in planning for the permanent shelter.
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The temporary shelter has been located in the vacated City Fleet Services Building on First Street since Nov. 2020. According to a press release, a permanent shelter is expected to be ready by next fall.
Rhodes-Conway also pushed for enhanced gun control in her statement, referencing both the Madison incident and the mass shooting in Boulder earlier Monday.
“As I have said before, our country needs meaningful gun control legislation at the state and federal level to take the torrent of cheap and available handguns off the streets. It is past time for legislative leaders to pass common sense gun safety laws,” Rhodes-Conway said.