Teen sped away from attackers after being shot

Victim who is at home recuperating tells authorities he drove in reverse down Franklin Street to escape men who were charged Wednesday with attempted homicide, robbery

PORT WASHINGTON POLICE officers and members of the Ozaukee County Special Response Team on Tuesday arrested two Milwaukee men, Lavander Blanks (top left) and Niyoktron Martin (top right) in connection with a shooting in downtown late Sunday night. Authorities cordoned off a parking lot as well as a portion of Pier and Jackson streets Tuesday afternoon when they entered an apartment to arrest one of the suspects (lower left photo). Carrying a shield, Port Police Lt. Craig Czarnecki checked the door of the apartment (lower right). Photos by Sam Arendt and Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Updated 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23.

Two Milwaukee men were charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Wednesday in connection with a Sunday night shooting in downtown Port Washington that left an 18-year-old man injured but alive after a harrowing escape.

In addition to the attempted homicide, Lavander Blanks, 26, and Niyoktron Martin, 21, were each charged with felony counts of attempted armed robbery and endangering safety with the reckless use of a weapon.

Martin faces additional counts of felony bail jumping and resisting or obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

Judge Joseph Voiland set bail for both Blanks and Martin at $100,000 during a hearing Wednesday afternoon. If the men post bail and are released, Voiland ordered them to wear electronic monitoring devices so they can be tracked, remain within 10 miles of their homes and not to have contact with the victim.

The men, who were arrested at a downtown Port apartment Tuesday, could face additional charges, District Attorney Adam Gerol said.

Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Nikolis Wagner-Ridling, who was released from the hospital Monday, drove himself to the Port Washington Police Station after being shot in the left shoulder about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Hingiss said Wagner-Ridling told officers that he was sitting in his parked Chrysler 200 outside his family’s 122 E. Main St. apartment when two black men in their late teens to early 20s wearing hoodies approached the car.

Martin knocked on the car window with a gun and told Wagner-Ridling to get out of the car, Hingiss said. Instead, Wagner-Ridling put his car into reverse and began backing up.

“That’s when we believe three shots were fired at the victim,” Hingiss said.

Wagner-Ridling backed his car onto Franklin Street until he was near Schooner Pub, then headed north, the chief said.

When passing Main Street, he was afraid the men would still be on the street so he ducked down so they wouldn’t see him in the car, Hingiss said.

Wagner-Ridling then headed to the Port  police station three blocks away.

Along the way, Wagner-Ridling called 911, telling 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, who was shot in the left shoulder, was taken by the Port Washington ambulance from the police station parking lot to the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, then transferred by a Flight for Life helicopter to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Hingiss said.

“He was pretty lucky,” he said, noting the bullet went through the shoulder. “It was basically a clean shot.”

Wagner-Ridling’s father Robert Little said Tuesday, “He’s OK. He’s going to be fine.”

Hingiss said officers, aided by Ozaukee County sheriff’s deputies, worked throughout the night gathering evidence and surveillance video, canvassing the area and talking to potential witnesses, as well as following tips.

“Our officers did a fantastic job,” he said. “We had probably three-quarters of the officers here trying to cover everything.”

They got a break in the case about 1:15 a.m. Monday, he said, when officer Antony Vitella saw a vehicle on Grand Avenue near Franklin Street slow to a virtual stop, then slowly drive until it reached Duluth Trading Co. Vitella went to talk to the driver, thinking he was lost, and noticed the occupants matched the description of the attackers.

“As he was driving to give them directions, they drove away slowly,” Hingiss said, so Vitella called other officers to stop the vehicle.

The men were stopped on Van Buren Street and brought in for questioning. They told officers they were in Port to visit their “auntie,” Hingiss said, but they couldn’t tell them where she lived.

Ultimately, Hingiss said, one of the men told police he came to Port to pick up Blanks, his half-brother, who had texted him and told him to avoid downtown Port because of police.

Those men were later released, Hingiss said.

Officers checked a number of data bases and found a Port Washington address connected to one of the suspects, he said. Witnesses later told police they had seen the men around the apartment previously and that night.

Police kept an eye on the apartment at 325 N. Franklin St. — about a block from the police station — which was occupied by a 31-year-old Port Washington woman Hingiss described as Blanks’ girlfriend.

When Martin left the apartment about 10:50 a.m. Monday, he was arrested without incident, Hingiss said.

Police attempted to contacts Blanks and the woman by phone, Hingiss said, but they were unsuccessful. After the landlord told them where the key to the apartment was, officers cordoned off the area and the Ozaukee County Special Response Team, using flash bang grenades, entered the apartment shortly after 2 p.m. and took both Blanks and the woman into custody.

Hingiss said SRT was called in because Blanks, who has been convicted of armed robbery in Milwaukee County, was armed.

Neither Blanks nor Martin resisted arrest, Hingiss said.

Police obtained a search warrant for the apartment and found a semi-automatic 9 mm handgun with an extended magazine capable of holding 30 rounds of ammunition that matched the description of the weapon used in the shooting, he said. 

Hingiss said he did not know if the weapon was loaded when it was found.

Hingiss said he does not know whether charges will be requested against the woman, adding she is being held in jail on a probation hold.

Hingiss, who would not comment on the suspects’ motive nor whether the men knew their victim, said late Tuesday officers are continuing to look into the shooting.

“We still have quite a bit of follow up to do,” he said.

Hingiss said that because officers were able to narrow the list of potential suspects so quickly, they announced in a press release that they believed the shooting was an isolated incident and there was no further threat to the community.

Neither Hingiss nor Captain Mike Keller said they could remember any recent shooting in the city where someone was injured. 

However, Keller said, it’s something every department must be prepared for.

“It’s the world we live in today,” he said.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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