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Three Arrests Made in Murder of Five-Year-Old Laylah Peterson

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LaToya Dennis
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Laylah Peterson was killed last November while sitting on the lap of her grandfather

Nearly one year ago, five-year-old Laylah Peterson was shot dead while sitting on her grandfather’s lap in his home on Milwaukee’s north side. On Tuesday, police announced three arrests. 

Investigators say the three men were seeking revenge because one of their brothers was killed. But they fired bullets into the wrong home. Emotions ran high during the press conference announcing the arrests.

It’s not uncommon for police officers to come across cases they will never forget. For Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, it’s been the killing of Laylah Peterson. He lifted a photo from his pocket.

“I’ve been carrying something around with me for a year and it’s Laylah. And I’d like to think we can put her to rest now,” Flynn says.

Flynn says while there is relief that police have arrested three suspects, there will probably never be closure for those who loved the little girl. Her family and friends shed tears and comforting hugs at Monday’s news conference; some took long, deep breaths seeming to try to calm their emotions. R.J. Peterson is Laylah’s dad. He thanked police for their persistence.

“Last night I got the first peaceful night’s sleep I’ve had in a very long time, and I would just like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for finally bringing some justice for Laylah,” Peterson says.

After the announcement, Laylah’s friends and family planned to visit her at the cemetery.

Flynn says it’s hard to develop a preemptive tactic to stop tragedies like this from happening, but he says police will go full-force after those committing such crimes.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.
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