"but then, a man just screamed at the top of his lungs"
An off-duty police officer was shot dead by a neighbour mowing his lawn after he joked that the neighbour was throwing grass clippings in front of his home.
Naeem Sarosh, aged 35, was a police community officer of Milwaukee Police Department.
It was reported that he was shot four times by his 65-year-old neighbour on August 31, 2020, at 6 pm.
According to a family friend, Naeem was joking with the neighbour who was mowing his front lawn.
Naeem allegedly said that the neighbour was throwing grass cuttings onto his front lawn as a joke.
However, the suspect allegedly pulled a gun from his pocket and opened fire. Naeem grabbed his wife and tried to run inside but was shot four times.
Neighbour Tammy Mitton overheard the police officer arguing with his neighbour and said:
“I’m dumbfounded by it because everybody is very quiet. We always say hello. Nobody bothers anybody. It’s shocking.
“I heard loud discussion, couldn’t make out any words, but then, a man just screamed at the top of his lungs, ‘I told you to put that down’.”
Mohammed Afzal was taken into custody. He was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and use of a dangerous weapon.
Both sets of families said the pair were good friends before the shooting.
However, some neighbours say that Naeem and Afzal had gotten into disputes before.
Neighbour Nicole Santiago said that Naeem was “an outstanding member of the community’ who leaves behind a wife and two daughters”.
He lived in the area for around four years. Meanwhile, Afzal had lived in the neighbourhood for decades but mostly kept to himself.
Afzal provided a statement to detectives where he admitted shooting the officer. He said that he was on his driveway “complaining about the grass”.
Afzal said Naeem had his hands in his pockets and thought he had a gun “so he shot him”.
After shooting the officer, Afzal said he went inside, put his gun away, and changed clothes because he knew police would be coming for him.
Community officers respond to non-emergency calls and are unarmed.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett released a statement praising Naeem as a well-respected employee.
“While the circumstances of the situation haven’t been fully determined, these types of senseless acts of violence should disturb us all.”
Milwaukee Police Department said in a statement:
“Community Service Officer Sarosh is a four-year veteran with the Milwaukee Police Department and was assigned to District 2.
“He will be greatly missed by the members of this organisation and by the members of our community.”
Ald. Scott Spiker, who represents the Clayton Crest neighborhood where the shooting happened, called the fatal attack ‘senseless’ in a statement on September 1, 2020.
He said: “When guns are used to settle disputes, whether among acquaintances or complete strangers, only tragedy can result.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Sarosh’s family, raising over over $22,000.