MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was in the hospital on Sunday after he was attacked by a person using a metal pipe as the mayor and his family left the Wisconsin State Fair.
Barrett was in stable condition Sunday at a local hospital and was alert and talking when he arrived there on Saturday night, the Milwaukee Police Department said in a statement. It did not provide more details.
A suspect was arrested Sunday in connection to the attack, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That suspect was not immediately identified.
Police said Barrett was leaving the state fair on Saturday night when he heard a woman crying out for help in the city of West Allis, about six miles west of Milwaukee.
Police said Barrett began calling 911 when the suspect who was attacking the woman charged at the mayor and began hitting him with a metal pipe. The suspect then fled the scene, authorities said.
The woman was not injured, and police were still searching for the suspect, who has a criminal arrest record, authorities said.
No other details were immediately available Sunday.
Suspect arrested in beating of Mayor Barrett
By Nicholas Penzenstadler
of the Journal Sentinel
Updated: Aug. 16, 2009 2:28 p.m.
A 20-year-old man was arrested and is being questioned Sunday in connection with Saturday's beating of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as the mayor was leaving State Fair Park in West Allis, Police Chief Edward A. Flynn announced at an afternoon press conference.
Milwaukee police arrested Anthony J. Peters about noon Sunday near 17th St. and State St., Flynn said. Peters has an extensive arrest record, including other assault charges, and Barrett stepped in while Peters was threatening other violent acts, West Allis Police Chief Mike Jungbluth said.
"Last night, he was a totally violent and vicious thug, and that's how he behaved," Flynn said during a 2 p.m. conference at the home of Barrett's brother, John Barrett.
A tearful John Barrett said his brother suffered serious injuries, but that doctors said he was expected to recover.
"He still has a good sense of humor and he's a great brother," said John Barrett, the Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court. "Tom stepped up and did the right thing. He called 911 and tried to calm the situation, protecting a grandmother and child."
Barrett was beaten with a pipe after leaving the Wisconsin State Fair with his family Saturday night.
In the neighborhood Sunday, a few neighbors were out on a hot afternoon trying to flag cars headed to the Wisconsin State Fair onto their lawns. Most heard the commotion during the night but didn't know what had happened in front of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School on West Orchard Street.
Kim Zaja, lives in a brick bungalow across the street from where the attack occurred.
"It's state fair week and we always expect to hear a little nonsense," she said. "We had the air conditioner on or we would have heard what was going on."
She heard someone on her fence in the back yard and then she heard sirens.
"The cops were there fast," Zaja said. "Cop cars were pulling up all over the place."
Zaja said she had talked previously to a neighbor about trouble with Peters, a former boyfriend.
"She's had problems with this boyfriend," Zaja said. "He'll sit in the car. He'll watch her."
"I don't know if they had a restraining order," she said.
Zaja thought that the woman had gone out with her current boyfriend Saturday night and that it was her mother who had the woman's daughter with her.
"It's a good neighborhood. We've been here for 12 years," Zaja said. "We resent that kind of crap coming into the neighborhood."
No one answered the door in the white house with red trim two houses down, where the other woman lives.
At the press conference, Flynn said Peters has not yet been charged, but that he was being questioned by Milwaukee police investigators.
Flynn said Milwaukee and West Allis police worked together on the investigation, tracking down about a dozen addresses in the two cities that Peters has used over the years.
Patrick Curley, Barrett's chief of staff said earlier Sunday the mayor was resting at the hospital. Although he could not give details on the injuries, Curley said there were "no signs of major trauma."
"He's exhausted obviously, but he's resting," Curley said. "All his vitals are good - he can carry on brief conversations."
The incident occurred about 10:45 p.m. in the 8800 block of W. Orchard St. in West Allis, according to a joint statement from the West Allis police and Milwaukee police.
Jungbluth described Peters as a "desperate man" who, according to witnesses, appeared intoxicated and who had threatened to shoot himself and others. He had taken a cell phone from a woman he was confronting, Jungbluth said.
Barrett and his family were returning to their car when they saw the altercation and heard a woman shouting that someone should call 911. Barrett began calling 911 when the suspect who had been attacking the woman, ran toward Barrett and began striking him with a metal pipe.
The suspect then fled the scene.
Barrett was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The statement said he was alert and talking when he arrived.
The woman who originally called for help was not injured.
Barrett usually travels with a security detail when attending official events, according to Curley. As with many private affairs, the mayor chose not to have security with him at the Fair Saturday.
Curley said Common Council President Willie Hines had been briefed on the mayor's condition. Under the city's line of succession, Hines would take command if the mayor were unable to perform his duties for any reason.
Patrice Harris, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin State Fair issued a statement Sunday about the incident.
"The management of Wisconsin State Fair Park commends Mayor Barrett for his actions as a good Samaritan after his departure from Wisconsin State Fair last night," Harris said in the statement. "His efforts to aid a citizen's cries for help should be praised and applauded."
Governor Jim Doyle visited Barrett in the hospital Sunday morning and said he "found him to be in good spirits and looking good considering what happened."
"The Mayor's heroic actions clearly saved a woman and others from harm," Doyle said in a statement. "Jessica and I, along with all the people of Wisconsin, are wishing him speedy recovery."