Shots rang out in downtown Beloit early Tuesday evening, leaving one man dead as the result of an officers-involved shooting.
Two Beloit police officers fired their weapons. Information at the scene and subsequently released by police said the officers had been trying to stop a suspect in a vehicle when the incident escalated.
The officers — yet unidentified — were placed on administrative leave as an investigation is conducted.
Shawnna Meinen from Beloit was sobbing as she arrived in the downtown area. She told a Beloit Daily News reporter she had received word that Darrius Lowery-Baptiste, 23, had been shot and killed.
She said Lowery-Baptiste was her daughter’s father, and was a very good father to her child.
As of deadline this morning, police had not officially confirmed Lowery-Baptiste was the subject shot.
Capt. Vince Sciame said police had the suspect under surveillance because there was a warrant issued for his arrest. Police followed the suspect as he drove from the 1100 block of Fifth Street to the downtown area shortly after 5 p.m. As he was driving on East Grand Avenue near the intersection with State Street, the officers tried to box him in, with one police vehicle pulling in front of him and a second vehicle pulling behind him.
Sciame said the suspect then tried to ram the car in front of him.
The incident is being investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and the two officers are on administrative leave until the conclusion of the investigation. It is customary for an outside agency to conduct this sort of investigation.
A handgun was recovered from the scene. Reporters observed the weapon lying in the street, by a pool of blood, next to the car the suspect had been driving.
It is not known if the subject fired a gun at police.
According to Meinen, police tried to pull Lowery-Baptiste over on Fifth Street and tried to flee from the officers.
“They blocked him. One cop car was behind him and one was in front of him. They said they tried to talk to him, but Darrius tried to leave and take off. The officer said he thought he was threatened and that he thought he was going to be run over so he shot at him and killed him,” she said. “They didn’t have the right to shoot him at all. It doesn’t sound like Darrius to me. I don’t believe the story.”
Meinen said Lowery-Baptiste was on probation and did have warrants out for his arrest, but said she didn’t believe he attempted to run down an officer while trying to get away.
“I don’t think they had reason to shoot him. Now he has a 4-year-old daughter who is never going to see her father again,” she said. “He loved his daughter very much and he took good care of her. I don’t know how I’m going to tell his daughter that her daddy’s gone.”
Meinen said she and Lowery-Baptiste broke up in March, but she said he would come and see her to make sure she was OK. She said her 4-year-old daughter looks just like her father.
Lowery-Baptiste was featured on the Greater Beloit Area Crime Stoppers wanted list on June 6 for an outstanding warrant and for questioning in connection to a shots-fired incident.
Wednesday morning Police Chief Norm Jacobs released a statement saying the two officers will be temporarily assigned outside of their normal work duties as the internal review is conducted.
Jacobs said the officers have the “immediate support from their families, the department and the chaplain’s services.”
“On behalf of the Beloit Police Department, I wish to express my sympathy to all the families involved,” the statement said. “Being a part of a traumatic event as this is a terrible burden for anyone and everyone.”
Jacobs added anyone with information on the shooting is encouraged to call police at 608-364-6801 if they have not already been interviewed.