Shocked by Port shooting, residents help crack case

DA, chief credit tipsters appalled by crime with helping police make quick arrests

Lavander Blanks (left) and Niyoktron Martin
Ozaukee Press staff

The shooting of an 18-year-old man in a parked car in downtown Port Washington on May 20 so shocked residents of the community that even people who had run-ins with police in the past reported tips in the case, District Attorney Adam Gerol said.

“This was intolerable to them,” Gerol said. “They wanted people to know we’re not going to have shootings in Port Washington. This doesn’t happen in our community. We won’t stand for it.”

The police, Gerol said, received numerous tips about the case primarily because people did not want this type of behavior in their community.

“The one thing that struck me was the intolerableness of this,” he said. “For the most part, we’re not visited by some of the most horrible crimes. They’re rare, and people don’t tolerate them.” 

Police Chief Kevin Hingiss last week issued a press release lauding the help officers received in the case.

“Citizens, I cannot thank you enough for assisting my officers in the quick apprehension of our shooting suspects,” he wrote. “Citizen involvement is one of Port Washington’s hallmarks and a key to keeping our community safe.” 

Gerol last week charged two Milwaukee men, Lavander Blanks, 26, and Niyoktron Martin, 21, with being a party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide, attempted armed robbery and endangering safety by the reckless use of a firearm — all felonies.

Martin was also charged with felony bail jumping and obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland set bail for the two men at $100,000 each during their initial court appearance Wednesday, May 23.

Voiland also ordered the men not to have contact with each other or the victim, and added that if the men are released on bail, they must stay within 10 miles of their homes and be electronically monitored.

Gerol had requested the bail, noting that authorities found the weapon believed to have been used in the shooting in a duffel bag with clothing and hygiene products when they searched the Port Washington residence where the men had been staying a day after the incident.

“Both these defendants were trying very hard to get a ride out of Port Washington to flee,” he said. “If these defendants find a way to flee, they will flee.”  

Public Defender Rachel Boaz, who represents Martin, asked for $1,000 bail.

She also asked that the complaint be dismissed, saying it offered no probable cause, just anecdotal evidence.

“This is a serious crime that’s disrupted our peaceful community,” Boaz said. “We have to make sure we have the right people.”

But Voiland found there was probable cause and set a preliminary hearing in the case for 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 31.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim, Nikolis Wagner-Ridling, told police that he was sitting in his parked car outside his family’s apartment on East Main Street near Franklin Street when the men approached him about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, May 20.

One man, identified as Martin, knocked on the driver’s side window with his gun and ordered him out, Wagner-Ridling said. Instead, he threw his car into reverse and fled, “at which time gunfire erupted,” the complaint states.

After a few moments, Wagner-Ridling realized he had been shot in the shoulder and drove to the police station. He was taken to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton and later to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee for treatment. He has since been released.

Officers found shell casings near the intersection, as well an unspent bullet in a nearby doorway, the complaint states.

About 1:30 a.m. Monday, May 21, officers stopped a vehicle driven by Blanks’ brother Justin that slowly drove past the crime scene several times, the complaint states. Justin Blanks told police he had received several text messages and phone calls from his brother looking for a ride out of Port Washington.

Police received numerous tips about two men running from the crime scene, including one from a woman who said she had seen two black men entering an apartment on Franklin Street.

Police arrested Martin leaving the apartment on May 21. Later that day, they executed a search warrant at the apartment and arrested Blanks. 

Officers found numerous rounds on the stairs leading to the apartment, the complaint states, as well as a Ruger 9mm handgun with an extended magazine in a duffel bag in the bedroom of the apartment.

The apartment was occupied by Angela Rodriguez, who told police she was in a relationship with Blanks, the father of her child, according to the complaint. Blanks told police he had been staying with her for several weeks, and Rodriguez said Martin, who goes by BG, had been staying with her for a couple days.

The complaint states that Rodriguez said when she arrived home from work the morning of May 21, BG was “extremely anxious for her to try and find him a ride back to Milwaukee.”

The charges of attempted homicide carry a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison, while the charge of attempted armed robbery carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. 

Blanks, who was previously convicted of felony armed robbery, is charged as a repeat offender, which could increase the sentence by as much as six years for each count.

Endangering safety by reckless use of a firearm carries a maximum 10 years in prison.

Bail jumping carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison, while obstructing an officer has a maximum penalty of nine months in jail.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login