Five Held After 2 Police Officers Slain
Mar. 20, 1985
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Officers of Milwaukee's 5th District wore black ribbons on their badges today to mourn two colleagues who authorities say were shot and killed after they apparently stumbled onto a drug deal.
Officers Leonard R. Lesnieski, 48, was struck in the heart by a small caliber bullet, and Rosario J. Collura, 39, shot in the chest, died Tuesday at the Milwaukee County Medical Complex, spokesman Jefferson Aikin said.
Lesnieski and Collura had left their patrol car Tuesday morning to talk to a group of young men in an alley when ''one or two guys opened up on them,'' said Inspector Kenneth J. Hagopian. ''It looks like it was a drug deal they happened on.''
Collura apparently tried to summon help, but the transmission from his radio was garbled, said Capt. Ronald Mehl. Police were called by a bystander who used the officer's radio, Mehl said.
A 26-year-old man believed to be the gunman was arrested hours later after trying to rob a woman and steal her car in a shopping center in suburban Brown Deer, police Capt. Thomas Thelen said. A 16-year-old youth present during the shootings was arrested while walking on a city street, Thelen said.
Three other young men, ranging in age from 16 to 20, were also taken into custody. Police said none of the five was wounded, and none would be identified until after the Milwaukee County district attorney considered charges today.
The 26-year-old man told investigators the shots were fired because the officers began frisking the group, police said. He said he was carrying drugs and a weapon the officers could have found, they said.
Before the arrests, police armed with rifles and dressed in special weapons team garb conducted a house-to-house search of the neighborhood around Moore's Sweet Shop, where the shootings occurred. The store had been robbed a week earlier, and the slain officers may have intended to ask questions about the holdup, said Mehl.
Collura, a 19-year police veteran, had recently stopped wearing a bullet- proof vest after he was transferred to the day shift, said Officer Timothy Oddsen. He ''just told me two days ago, 'I'm through with this hard stuff, Timmy,''' Oddsen related.
Lesnieski joined the force in 1969.