After guns were fired and two people were killed outside a South Side grocery store last weekend, one of them a customer and the other a private security guard removing him from the property, two narratives emerged.
One hails the security guard as a hero for doing his duty and keeping a neighborhood flagship business safe and orderly. The other portrays store security as overly reactive and responsible for escalating the situation.
Saturday’s shooting outside the El Rey grocery store at 916 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. began around 10:21 a.m. with some sort of altercation inside the business and untangled in the parking lot between the man and at least two security guards.
Milwaukee police say Luis J. Lorenzo, 36, fired shots that killed security guard Anthony J. Nolden, 59. Shots fired by a second guard killed Lorenzo, and an innocent 41-year-old bystander was also injured by the shots, although it is unclear which shooter.
Police declined to say who fired or drew a weapon first, but said Monday no arrests had been made while the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the actions of security guards at the store. The local police district where the shooting took place took time on social media to express his condolences for the loss of Noldenthe guard, and did not make similar comments regarding Lorenzo.
Lorenzo’s family disputed any suggestion that he was responsible for the shooting.
In a statement to the Journal Sentinel, Lorenzo’s family said he suffered from various mental health issues, including paranoia. A warrant had been issued for his arrest after he missed a September 2021 court hearing on drug and flight charges, according to online court records.
His family alleged that Lorenzo was profiled and stopped by security inside the store for having a backpack, which he refused to leave at the customer service counter because inside was a ” large sum of money”. Family members have also said various local newscasts outlets Lorenzo wore a ski mask.
As security escorted Lorenzo out of the store and through the parking lot, Lorenzo’s family said a guard tried to grab him, which sparked a fight between the two and led to the shooting.
Lorenzo “should never have been chased further than the door once he walked through the door,” the statement read. “Security here is way too aggressive and forceful.”
A Sunday vigil outside the grocery store for Nolden drew perhaps two dozen people, including business owners from the Clarke Square neighborhood and two nearby town alders who represent the area — José G. Pérez and JoCasta Zamarripa — according to a video from the event by H. Nelson Goodson of Hispanic News Network USA
Perez and Zamarripa said they are planning a meeting with Police Chief Jeffery Norman and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson to address public safety in the Clarke Square neighborhood.
“We’re really struggling here,” she said. “And we want to make sure that the public safety of the neighborhoods here is secure and what it should be.”
Zamarripa, who grew up in Clarke Square and attended El Rey, said she felt a sense of urgency to direct attention and resources toward public safety in the area.
Emmanuel Nolden, the security guard’s nephew, joined another family and praised their uncle, emphasizing his commitment to his job and making people feel safe. He says he leaves behind two children.
“My uncle was a superhero,” Emmanuel Nolden said, fighting back tears while holding two loved ones. “He was a superhero when we were kids and now we’re adults and he’s still a superhero to us.”
“If you have animosity with someone… let it go,” he said. “We are losing humanity at a rapid rate right now.”
Enoch Wilson, who worked with Nolden for over four years, remembered Nolden as a man with a great work ethic who befriended everyone.
“Tony was everyone’s friend,” Wilson said. “He was everyone’s brother.”
Nolden was an employee of Public Safety Marshal, a private security company that serves Milwaukee and surrounding counties, sometimes with armed personnel. A company representative declined to comment on Tuesday.
According to the company’s websiteits agents are equipped with body cameras, pepper spray, a baton, handcuffs, a rescue knife and, occasionally, a semi-automatic firearm.
Goodson Recorded Video showed members of the Public Safety Marshal grappling and placing some sort of hand restraint on a man after a disturbance after Sunday’s vigil.
After being released, the man later told Goodson on video that he was a relative of Lorenzo and was there to “peacefully protest” his murder.
Wisconsin requires armed private security personnel to receive 36 hours of firearms training and six hours of refresher training to renew a license each year.
Jessica Rodriguez is a Report for America Corps reporter who focuses on news of value for underserved communities for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Please consider supporting journalism that informs our democracy with a tax-deductible donation to this reporting effort at JSOnline.com/RFA.