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Damani Terry just wanted to join a group of girls dancing in a park across the street so the 2-year-old stepped into the road — right into the path of an oncoming van.
The van hit the toddler, and the driver jumped out to check on the badly injured boy, setting into motion a chain of events that included an uncle fatally shooting his own nephew and a stranger and then taking his own life. In the end, four people were dead.
It all started Sunday as Archie Brown Jr. drove his van through the northwest side of Milwaukee on an errand to Home Depot.
Brown hit Damani and leaped from the vehicle to attend to the toddler. Damani's 15-year-old brother, who had been celebrating a birthday in a nearby house, ran to his brother after witnessing the accident.
At that point, police said, the boys' uncle, Ricky Chiles, took the law into his own hands, emerging from a home into the street with a gun. He fired at the 40-year-old Brown, striking him and hitting Chiles' teenage nephew, who witnesses said was attempting to help when he was shot.
Brown died at the scene, alongside Damani. The teenager, Rasheed Chiles, died at a hospital.
"This sad example is what we get when we have folks who decide it's their responsibility to use their guns to redress their grievances," Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said Thursday at a news conference.
Mayor Tom Barrett earlier in the week called Brown's shooting an "assassination."
On Thursday, Ricky Chiles III shot himself as police and federal marshals closed in on him at a motel in the Chicago suburb of Lyons, where he was staying with his girlfriend.
"I'm glad it's over, but I think he took a ... cheap way or a cowardly way out," Brown's father, Archie Brown Sr. of Milwaukee, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "He was afraid of man's justice, but he decided to go and meet God's justice."