Jordan P. Fricke, 26, is accused of shooting and killing a police officer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The shooting happened February 6, 2019, as officers were carrying out a search warrant. Police said the suspect began firing after the officers had announced their presence.
The officer killed was Matthew Rittner, 35. He had been a member of the force for 17 years and was married with one son. Officer Rittner was the third police officer killed in Milwaukee within the past 8 months. Prior to that, the department had not lost an officer in more than two decades.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Fricke Was Suspected of Selling Drugs & Weapons; As Officers Arrived to Carry Out a Search Warrant, Fricke Heard Them Yell ‘Police’ But Says He Didn’t Believe They Were Actually Police
The Milwaukee Police Department’s Tactical Enforcement Unit arrived at the home on South 12th Street about 9:17 a.m. on February 6 to conduct a search warrant. Police Chief Alfonso Morales said the officers announced themselves when they arrived. According to the criminal complaint from the Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office, the nine officers involved were all wearing ballistic helmets with body cameras attached, and “black ballistic vests that had “POLICE” written in visible white letters across the chest, back, and shoulders.”
They were there to search the home for illegal weapons and drugs. The target, Jordan Fricke, was accused of selling the contraband items. Officers approached the rear entrance door through the alley. As explained in the complaint, the officers “used a two person ram to breach the rear entrance door. After the first strike to the door, Officer Grady yelled ‘Police, Search Warrant!’ Simultaneously with Officer Grady’s announcement that the police were executing a search warrant, the ram team delivered a second blow to the door knocking the door in and providing entry to the residence.” The officers yelled out “Police, Search Warrant” multiple times.
Once inside, the team made their way to the upper unit, where Fricke lived. The door was locked. Officer Rittner was the team member operating the “one man ram tool.” He hit the door three times, which created a “large opening in the locked door.” The tactical team again yelled “Police!”
Once there was an opening in the door, the suspect fired four gunshots. The complaint explains, “Officer Grady observed Officer Rittner drop and believed that Officer Rittner had been struck by gunfire. Officer Grady then stepped towards the opening in the door, aimed his rifle with mounted flash light into the residence, and observed the above mentioned defendant with his hands in the air. Officer Grady then covered the defendant until he was later taken into custody. Officer Grady also observed a female, later determined to be the defendant’s girlfriend KP.” Chief Morales credited his officers for showing “tremendous restraint during the suspect’s apprehension.”
Officer Matthew Rittner was rushed to Froedtert Hospital, where he died from his injuries. An autopsy concluded that Officer Rittner was struck once in the upper chest. The bullet moved through both lungs and the aorta, and ended on the right side.
Fricke’s girlfriend told police that she heard the officers yell “police” at least twice. She said they were sleeping when she heard “loud noises;” she said Fricke jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen. She said she saw him pointing a gun at the door. As explained in the complaint, “KP then saw the defendant shoot at the kitchen door, she believes through the opening that the police had made into the door. KP stated that she knew it was the police at the door because they identified themselves, but that the defendant fired his weapon.”
After the shooting, Fricke admitted that he heard the officers yell “Police!” But he had not believed they were actually the police. The gun used to shoot Officer Rittner was an AK 47 pistol. “The defendant did admit that he knew that AK 47 ammunition was “devastating ammunition” and that hitting someone in the chest with that round would probably result in that person dying.” Fricke also admitted to selling small amounts of marijuana and “admitted to assembling rifles and selling them at gun shows.”
2. Fricke Faces Charges Including First-Degree Intentional Homicide
The Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office is charging Jordan Fricke on three counts: First-Degree Intentional Homicide while using a dangerous weapon; First-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety; and Maintaining a Drug Trafficking Place. If convicted on the homicide charge, Fricke could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Police became suspicious that Fricke was illegally selling firearms in December of 2018. Officers responded to a “shots fired” complaint on December 27, 2018. According to the criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s office, the recovered weapon had been purchased at a gun show 13 days earlier by an associate of Fricke’s. A confidential informant told police that Fricke and his friend “Marlon” had an associate buy weapons at gun shows, and then they would resell the weapon for a profit. The informant told police that Fricke and his friend “had others purchase approximately 13 to 15 firearms for them in past 4-5 months.”
The informant also told police that Fricke was a drug dealer and that he sold marijuana. Police had the confidential informant buy marijuana from Fricke on two separate occasions. These buys, in addition to the prior gun purchase, led police to acquire a search warrant of Fricke’s property.
Inside Fricke’s apartment, police found at least 8 firearms, a taser, and parts for assault rifles. They recovered $3,000 in cash inside of a safe. They also found two digital scales, which officers believed were used to weigh drugs.
3. Jordan Fricke Did Not Have a Violent Criminal History, According to Court Records; Friends Described Him as a ‘Gun Enthusiast’ With a Concealed Carry Permit
Jordan Fricke did not have a violent criminal history as an adult, according to court records. But he does have at least two prior arrests in Milwaukee. According to records with the Wisconsin Circuit Court, Fricke entered a no contest plea to a charge of driving under the influence in 2014. In 2010, he was also charged with underage possession of alcohol. Fricke entered a no contest plea in that case as well.
Friends of Fricke’s described him to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a gun enthusiast who enjoys attending gun shows and collecting guns. The newspaper quoted friend Juany Estrada, who argued that it would not have been in Fricke’s nature to pull a gun unless he was in fear for his own safety. “He’s not a saint, but a killer he isn’t.”
Another friend, Mario Barry, said that Fricke always had his concealed carry permit on him. He explained that Fricke typically slept late and would have been surprised to have someone at his door in the morning. It’s important to note that the officers verbally announced their presence, and witnesses reported hearing police using a loudspeaker.
The newspaper added that Fricke lost his mother as a young child. His brother, Josh, was killed when he was run over by a car in 2015. His father, who is also deceased, reportedly spent years behind bars and did not play a role in Fricke’s life.
4. District Attorney: A Suspect Identified as Marlon Tirado Was Arrested the Same Day as Fricke
Jordan Fricke lived in the neighborhood with his grandmother, his sister Jazmin Fricke confirmed to WITI-TV. She told the TV station that she was stunned to learn that her brother was accused of killing a police officer. “I want to know what happened. Why did he do it? Just everything I don’t know… He doesn’t get into trouble at all.”
Police Chief Morales said during a news conference that a second person was arrested along with Fricke. The Milwaukee District Attorney’s office has identified that person as Marlon Tirado, who, according to the criminal complaint, lived next door to Fricke and is accused of working with Fricke to sell drugs and weapons. He is not accused in the deadly shooting of Officer Rittner.
Tirado was arrested February 6, 2019, without incident. Inside his home, police said they found $608 in cash, two 9mm handguns, a large amount of ammunition, sandwich bags filled with marijuana, a digital scale and nine yellow Alprazolam pills.
Tirado has been charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Controlled Substance and Maintaining a Drug Trafficking Place. The maximum penalty for the charges is 3 and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
5. Officer Matthew Rittner Was a Marine Corps Veteran & Got Married in 2017
The city of Milwaukee is mourning the loss of Officer Matthew Rittner. According to the police chief, Officer Rittner was a Marine Corps veteran and served three tours in the Middle East. He joined the police force in 2001 and had been on the Tactical Enforcement Unit for a decade. He was awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor in 2016.
WITI-TV shared pictures of the procession from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office after Officer Rittner died. In the video above, you can see firefighters saluting their fallen officer as the procession went past.
The Fiserv Forum arena was also lit in blue to honor Officer Rittner and to show support for the Milwaukee Police Department.
Officer Rittner had been about to celebrate his 36th birthday. He married his wife Caroline on September 16, 2017. The Milwaukee Brewers shared a photo of that happy day. Officer Rittner even threw a pitch from the mound. The couple had one young son.
The city of Milwaukee has had to mourn the loss of three officers within the space of eight months. Officer Michael Michalski was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 25, 2018.
Jonathan Copeland Jr. was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. His trial was scheduled to begin February 11, 2019. As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Officer Michalski and two other officers were attempting to arrest Copeland on drug charges, but he fled. Police said Copeland hit in a pile of clothing for several minutes and shot Officer Michalski as he came up a stairwell.
On June 7, 2018, Officer Charles Irvine Jr. died while riding in the passenger seat of the cruiser. He and Officer Matthew Schulze were chasing a reckless driver. The man they were chasing, Ladell Harrison, was arrested and charged on multiple counts including “fleeing an officer causing death” and “recklessly endangering safety.” Officer Irvine was the first Milwaukee police officer killed in the line of duty since 1996.