Accused Port shooter charged with murder in Milwaukee

New case sheds light on why man was in Port, origin of gun used to wound teen in attempted carjacking

Niyoktron Martin (left) and Lavander Blanks.
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

A Milwaukee man charged with the May 20 shooting of a teenager in downtown Port Washington was in the city because he needed to “hang low” after shooting and killing a man in Milwaukee two days earlier, according to a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last week that sheds new light on the Port case.

And the handgun 21-year-old Niyoktron T. Martin used to shoot the Port Washington teenager was a 9mm owned by the Milwaukee man he’s accused of killing, the complaint states.

Martin, who has been held in the Ozaukee County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail since being arrested the day after the Port shooting, was charged Monday, Sept. 17, in Milwaukee County with felony murder in connection with the midday shooting of a man during a robbery on West Good Hope Road near a school.

In Ozaukee County, Martin and his alleged accomplice in the Port shooting, 27-year-old Milwaukee resident Lavander L. Blanks, are charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the shooting of 18-year-old Nikolis Wagner-Ridling as he sped away in reverse from an attempted carjacking on East Main Street outside his apartment.

Although separate cases, the shootings in Port Washington and Milwaukee are intertwined. The handgun recovered in Port Washington, as well as the bloody pants Martin was wearing when he was arrested outside a Franklin Street apartment, helped Milwaukee police identify him as a suspect in the shooting there. 

And the investigation into the Milwaukee shooting explains why Martin came to Port Washington and links him to the gun used in the shooting there, which could undermine the argument made by lawyers for Martin and Blanks that, lacking surveillance video of the shooting and witnesses who can give detailed descriptions of Wagner-Ridling’s attackers, authorities arrested the wrong men.  

“Once the ATF traced the gun recovered in Port to the victim in the Milwaukee shooting, then the lights came on and it was, ‘Oh, so that’s what he (Martin) was doing here,” Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.

Blanks, who was living with his fiancee in Port Washington at the time of both crimes, is not implicated in the Milwaukee shooting, but he apparently knew that Martin, who is his cousin, was involved. 

According to the Milwaukee County complaint, Blanks’ fiancee told investigators that Blanks was watching a television news story about the murder of the Milwaukee man when he told her he was worried about Martin and agreed to invite him to stay with them in Port Washington.

She said Martin was dropped off at her apartment later on the day of the Milwaukee shooting and told her and Blanks that he needed to “hang low because things are hot in Milwaukee,” the complaint states.

Blanks’ fiancee also told authorities that she heard Martin tell Blanks that on the morning of the Milwaukee shooting, his cousin Cornelius Parks contacted him regarding a robbery he had set up. Martin went on to tell Blanks that during the robbery, the murder victim reached for Martin’s gun and Martin shot him, according to the complaint.

Two teachers at a school near the Milwaukee shooting told authorities that they saw three men fighting in a parking lot and kept their students inside for recess because of it. The teachers said the men appeared to be struggling over a handgun and, after hearing multiple gunshots, they saw one of the men holding a gun standing over another who was on the ground.

DNA taken from a cigar butt found at the scene of the Milwaukee shooting matched that of Martin, and DNA from blood on his pants was determined to be from him and the murder victim, the complaint states.

According to Milwaukee authorities, Parks was shot and killed in an unrelated homicide on Aug. 1.

While Martin took Blanks up on his offer to hide out in Port Washington, he apparently didn’t want to stay long. In what police said was an apparent attempted car-jacking, Martin and Blanks approached Wagner-Ridling as he was sitting in his car on East Main Street just before 11 p.m. Sunday, May 20, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County.

Port Washington police officer Jerry Nye testified during a May 31 preliminary hearing that Wagner-Ridling told him one of the men, who authorities identified as Martin, pointed a gun at the driver’s side window, ordered Wagner-Ridling out of the car and, as Wagner-Ridling put the car into reverse, opened fire. 

Wounded, Wagner-Ridling backed onto Franklin Street and drove to the police station while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

According to the 911 recording, Wagner-Ridling told the dispatcher, “I’ve just been shot. They shot me in my car .... They shot my window out .... I’m bleeding everywhere, ma’am. I’m bleeding out. Oh my God ... I have to call my mom and dad.”

Wagner-Ridling was taken by ambulance to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, then flown by helicopter to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. He was released the day after the shooting.

Although Wagner-Ridling didn’t get a good look at his attackers, he did see the gun one of them pointed at him, Nye said. 

“He described it as a gun that looked similar to an Uzi,” Nye said, referring to a small automatic weapon that typically uses a high-capacity magazine. “He described it as looking like a handgun with an extended magazine.”

Footage from downtown video cameras shows two men who authorities say were Martin and Blanks walking west on East Main Street, then north on North Wisconsin Street near the police station minutes after the shooting. Footage from a camera at the station shows the men pick up their pace and cut through a parking lot behind the apartment of Blanks’ fiancee, where they were arrested the next day.

Inside the apartment, authorities found  a 9mm handgun — the gun that according to authorities was owned by the Milwaukee man Martin is charged with killing — and two clips, one of which was an extended, 30-round magazine. A bullet found on the stairs of the apartment matches one found at the scene of the shooting just blocks away, authorities said. 

Blanks’ fiancee told authorities that after Martin arrived at her apartment, she saw him loading an extended magazine, according to the Milwaukee County complaint. 

Martin and Blanks are also charged in Ozaukee County with attempted armed robbery and endangering safety by the reckless use of a firearm — all felonies. 

In addition, Martin is  charged with felony bail jumping and obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

Blanks, who was convicted in Milwaukee County of armed robbery in 2013 and sentenced to three years in prison and four years of extended supervision, is charged in Ozaukee County as a repeat offender. 

Martin and Blanks have pleaded not guilty to the Ozaukee County charges and are scheduled to stand trial beginning Jan. 22.

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