Not Fade Away (PG)

Clipping from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 7, 1999:


Paramedics were called to Fonzarelli’s Garage at Alton and Kings Way at 11:50 last night in response to a neighbor’s frantic 911 call. Upon arrival they found Mr. Arthur Fonzarelli, 63, collapsed on the sidewalk severely beaten and in cardiac arrest. CPR was attempted for several minutes, but Fonzarelli died despite all life-saving measures.

Reconstructing events based on the unverified details pro­vided by neighborhood witnesses, police believe the savage attack on Fonzarelli began shortly after the man closed up his garage for the night at approximately 11:30. Witnesses reported seeing a group of four to five teen-aged assailants wearing gang colors call out to the man and immediately begin beating him with chains and baseball bats. Though the attack was witnessed by several of Fonzarelli’s neighbors, no one attempted to intervene beyond making the 911 call. Said one, a 42-year-old man who requested to remain anonymous, “This ain’t the kind of street a person would feel like sticking his neck out for anybody else. It just ain’t safe to be a Good Samaritan around here.”

Such an attitude may be understandable in light of the area’s frequent and markedly violent gang activity. Residing along the boundary of the “turfs” of The Dragons and Diablos street gangs, this patch of the city’s lower west-side has seen eight gang-related homicides in this year alone. Mr. Fonzarelli himself had been instrumental in organizing Neighborhood Watch and Mentor Outreach programs in an effort to connect with the youth of the community. Quoted in a 1997 interview, Fonzarelli had this to say about the gang situation, “If I can only get these kids to listen, they might hear some­thing useful about the life they’re choosing. And don’t kid yourself, it is a choice. It doesn’t matter where you start off in life, there’s always a better way to go. I want to show them that and show them that someone gives a damn where they end up.”

In the estimation of local police, who were aware of Mr. Fonzarelli’s stance on this issue, this killing may be a direct response to Fonzarelli’s out­spoken defiance of gang intimidation. “In a neighborhood too afraid to take a stand, Arthur Fonzarelli was the exception. His death is a blow to this com­munity,” said Police Captain Vance Halberstam.

Confusion amongst eyewitness testimonies make the identity of the assailants difficult; reports are unclear whether the attackers belonged to either the Dragons or Diablos or even a hit squad com­posed of members of both gangs, a possibility that, though unlikely given the history between the two groups, is not currently being ruled out.

A lifelong Milwaukan and owner of two Fonzarelli’s Garages, Mr. Arthur Fonzarelli still worked on many of his customers’ engines himself. Considered a genuine American success story by his friends and acquaint­ances, Fonzarelli rose from being a troubled youth more than familiar with the inside of the city’s jail to a respected local businessman with a long history of civic involve­ment. He is survived by a daughter, Ms. Amber Tuscadero, with whom he had only recently become close.

“We had just started to get to know each other. It was like we were finally becoming a real family,” said Ms. Tuscadero through tears, “I can’t believe my kids have been robbed of a granddad they didn’t for the longest time know they had.”

The police would appreciate any information the public may have in regards to those parties responsible for the death of Mr. Fonzarelli. You may contact the 24th precinct directly or call their Homicide hotline at 555-6060.

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