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Feds Charge Milwaukee Man With Planning Arson During Sherman Park Unrest

Officials Accuse Teen Mentor Vaun Mayes Of Attempting To Firebomb Police Station In 2016

Milwaukee riot police in Sherman Park
Police move in on a crowd throwing rocks in Milwaukee, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. Shots rang out during unrest after a police shooting that killed Sylville Smith.

Federal prosecutors have charged a Milwaukee man who works as a teen mentor with attempting to firebomb a police station during riots two summers ago.

Police clashed with protesters in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood for two straight nights in August 2016 after then-Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown killed Sylville Smith during a chase.

According to court documents filed Wednesday, 31-year-old Sherman Park teen mentor Vaun Mayes (named in the criminal complaint as Van L. Mayes) planned to bomb the Sherman Park police station with Molotov cocktails.

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Informants said Mayes started discussing firebombing the station with others the day after the rioting ended. One informant witnessed Mayes building Molotov cocktails that night. The group went to the police station, saw officers on the roof and decided not to attack.

Online court records indicate Mayes was in U.S. marshals’ custody and due to appear in court Thursday. The public defender who represented Mayes at an initial court appearance Monday declined comment.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12 p.m., Tuesday, July 3, 2018 to clarify the spelling of Mayes’ name.

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