MILWAUKEE – A Milwaukee Army reservist's military identification earned him some street cred Tuesday, when he says four men who mugged him at gunpoint returned his belongings and thanked him for his service after finding the ID.
The 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student said he was walking home from work about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday when he was pulled into an alley and told to lay face down and with a gun to his neck. Four men took his wallet, $16, keys, his cell phone and even a PowerBar wrapper from his pants pockets, he said.
But the hostile tone quickly changed when one of the robbers, whom the reservist presumed was the leader, saw an Army ID in the wallet. The robber told the others to return the items and they put most of his belongings on the ground next to him, including the wrapper, the reservist said.
"The guy continued to say throughout the situation that he respects what I do and at one point he actually thanked me and he actually apologized," said the reservist, who asked not to be identified Tuesday because the robbers still had his keys.
The reservist said he asked the men, who all had hoods or hats covering their faces, if he could get up and they said he could before starting to walk away.
"The leader of the group actually walked back, gave me a quick fist bump, which was very strange," he said.
Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said the reservist is credible and that officers still were looking for the suspects Tuesday.
The reservist didn't realize until later that his keys were not with him and he doesn't know if the robbers intended to keep those, he said. Still, he said he feels lucky.
"I'm just kind of awe struck that everything was given back to me due to just being in the military, " he said. "I realize in pretty much every other situation that wouldn't happen."
He said he's never been deployed, only having signed up for the Army Reserves about a year ago. He said he is the first person in his immediate family to join the military.
Schwartz said there were two other incidents within 40 minutes in the same area and police suspect the four men were involved in all of them. The robbers were unsuccessful at 12:35 a.m., when the 39-year-old man they approached ran into the street and started screaming.
Schwartz said within 10 minutes of that they approached a 47-year-old man — a convicted burglar who had a Department of Corrections inmate ID in his wallet — ordered him to the ground and pointed a gun at him. They took his wallet, apparently unfazed by that ID.