When a 16-year-old girl was shot and killed while working at a Burger King in Milwaukee earlier this month, horrifying news reverberated across the country. Tens of thousands of dollars in donations poured in and Niesha Harris-Brazell’s devastated family wondered how she could have been caught “in the blink of an eye.”
But after two weeks of summing up the facts, investigators brought charges in court documents on friday that Harris-Brazell was killed in a surprise robbery she had staged with her best friend and best friend’s father.
Harris-Brazell, a dedicated student at Pulaski High school, was working shifts as a Burger King cashier on the evening of January 2 with her best friend, who has identified herself in media interviews as Mariah Edwards.
While wearing their shirts, a black Chevy Impala pulled up to the driver’s window, according to surveillance footage cited by authorities in court documents. Harris-Brazell turned to serve his alleged customer when the driver pulled out a gun and demanded cash.
Surveillance footage shows Harris-Brazell turning around and starting to withdraw money from the register while apparently screaming for help. The driver, with the hood of his red coat pulled low over his masked face, then hurled himself through the window, swinging the gun with one hand and reaching for the cash, court documents show. know.
The attacker then abruptly withdrew from the window and returned to his car without the cash, before speeding up. At the same time, Harris-Brazell fell to the ground after a shot.
“After I heard gunshots, I ran to the front and I saw my best friend lying on the floor saying she was shot.” Mariah told FOX6 in the days that followed.
Harris-Brazell was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators initially assumed that the hooded man in the window fired the shots that killed Harris-Brazell. But closer inspection of the video showed that the gun he was waving was never fired, authorities said.
As stated in the criminal complaint, another camera mounted inside the restaurant revealed that the footage was shot from in Burger King.
As the robbery unfolds and Harris-Brazell calls for help, her colleague, Derrick Ellis, 34 years old, was quick to respond. A criminal complaint filed four days after the shooting alleges Ellis pulled a gun, aimed at the robber and fired twice. Looks like Harris-Brazell was caught in the fire.
According to court documents, surveillance footage shows Ellis appearing to panic as he tries to collect burnt covers from the restaurant floor afterwards. He was filmed running to the restaurant’s manager, who helped him store the weapon in the store’s safe.
Ellis then fled the restaurant and has not been seen since. He has been charged with murder. Burger King’s manager is said to have told police that Ellis hid a weapon and fled because he was an unlicensed offender.
Later, investigators determined that the driver of the Impala was Antoine Edwards, whose daughter Mariah was working at Burger King at the time. According to the criminal complaint, Mariah allegedly confessed she, her father, and Harris-Brazell coordinated the robbery at a time when they expected the register to be full of cash.
According to the complaint, Mariah testified that they were related to Harris-Brazell because she worked through the driver’s window while Mariah worked in the kitchen. However, that was never part of the plan, for Ellis, the colleague who shot Harris-Brazell, to come help her.
Although Mariah told police all three were involved in the plot, Antoine Brown allegedly testified that his daughter was not involved and that Harris-Brazell was his only accomplice.
Both father and daughter have been arrested, and a criminal complaint charges Antoine with felony murder, knowingly contributing to a child’s crime resulting in death, and possession of a firearm. Guns are a felony.
Harris-Brazell’s mother, Liceal Brazell, remained adamant that her daughter would not participate in the plot to take her life. On Friday, she told FOX6, “It really drives me crazy, it makes me angry. You have told a lot of different lies, now you will tell more lies. That won’t help you. That won’t help your father. ”
Harris-Brazell’s sister founded a GoFundMe to help the family raised more than $40,000. Her grandmother, Ida Lane, told FOX6, “We were trying to raise a young, independent girl here and she took it away from us in the blink of an eye.”