Bernell Trammell was shot dead in broad daylight on Thursday in Milwaukee. Trammell's death has sparked questions if his "senseless" murder was politically motivated since he was an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump. The 60-year-old black man was killed in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood on Thursday afternoon.
Around 12:30 p.m., Trammell was shot in front of his shop. Patricia Holland, who lives near the crime scene, said she heard multiple gunshots near Trammell's business, Expressions Journal Publications.
"I seen the ambulance and stuff – the police flying by my house, and I just said, 'Oh my god,'" Holland said. "What happened to him, I mean — it shouldn't happen to anyone. It's a senseless death."
Trammell was known as a "Rasta street preacher," who had a variety of signs near his shop, including quoting Bible verses, promoting Black Lives Matter, supporting President Trump, and a hand-painted sign that read: "THUMBS UP BEFORE GUNS UP!"
"He was a happy person," Holland said of Trammell. "He always talked to everybody that came by basically, say hi and speak to them."
Trammell had Rastafari religious views and was an independent who supported Republicans and Democrats.
"He believed in democracy. He believed in his right to free speech," John Self, who had many philosophical conversations with Trammell over the years, said. "I don't think he ever once tried to convert you or change you. He would just tell you what he thought, he would listen to what you had to think, and then he would respect that."
"He was a kind man," Johnny Schaeffer, who knew Trammell for almost his entire life, told Heavy. "He was a gentle guy. Some people didn't like what he said, but they respected him for the most part, I thought. I'd go down there, people would always say, 'Bernell, hey.' He knew everybody in the neighborhood. I am shocked right now."
"He was a positive guy," blogger Adebisi Agoro, who spoke with Trammell just hours before the shooting, said. "I didn't see him being mean or violent at all toward anybody while he was outside with his signs. He'd be on his bike. I'd see him pretty much daily."
"He's a black elder who didn't deserve to die the way that he did," Reggie Moore, director of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Moore revealed that he recently broke up a dispute between Trammell and a young man. Moore believes that the argument stemmed from a Trump sign that Trammell was carrying.
The Milwaukee Police are investigating Trammell's shooting, and they are still looking for suspects and a motive. "Anyone with any information is asked to contact Milwaukee Police at (414) 935-7360 or Milwaukee Crime Stoppers at (414) 224-TIPS or P3 Tips App," the Milwaukee Police said.
Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, has called for federal prosecutors to investigate Trammell's murder.
"Because of Trammell's well known political activism and the possibility that his murder could be politically motivated, I respectfully request that United States Attorney Matthew Krueger open an investigation into this heinous crime," Hitt said in a statement. "No American should fear for their personal safety because of where they live or their political affiliation."