State Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez nearly shot in drive-by shooting

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- State Representative Sylvia Ortiz-Velez was nearly shot in a drive-by shooting last month.

She says she and her family were at the funeral of her 3-year-old nephew, Gideon Simos, on Feb. 4, when she and another family member were almost hit by bullets from a passing car that drove off.

Ortiz-Velez says the shooting happened outside of her home on Milwaukee’s south side.

"I [saw] a car pull up and the window rolled down and the gun came out the window," Ortiz-Velez told CBS 58.

The person with the gun was apparently aiming for a pedestrian walking near Ortiz-Velez's car when they began firing.

She tells us no one was hurt.

"I was in disbelief because I grew up in this neighborhood and nothing like that's ever happened to me before," Ortiz-Velez said. "And I thought if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone."

Ortiz-Velez said there are many factors to rising crime in the Milwaukee area, but points to the Republican-controlled state Legislature as a source of why there are struggles to address the issue.

"I know that the biggest problem that Milwaukee County faces is the inability to do our job because we don't have the resources that we need from the state of Wisconsin to do our job," Ortiz-Velez said.

That includes a lack of shared revenue from state dollars as well as an inability to raise the county sales tax without legislative approval. Republicans have maintained a position of not wanting to raise taxes to benefit residents.

But Ortiz-Velez said without more help from the state for things like public safety, pre-trial resources and the justice system, the county will continue to struggle to address crime.

"We're trying to bail out with cups right now and we need buckets."

Ortiz-Velez also released a statement saying in part:

“There are many reasons I voted in favor of Assembly Joint Resolution 107, We must do all we can to ensure public safety. Assembly Joint Resolution 107 requires judges to determine whether an individual poses a public threat when setting bail amounts.

We need to protect the public from individuals who may pose a public threat. I would prefer a no cash bail system, because we could keep people in custody that we don't want to bail out dangerous persons, at the same time ensuring we don't have people in custody who are non-violent offenders. The truth is we have limited resources and we need to have room for people who do pose a threat to the public. The larger problem is how the State has systematically underfunded Milwaukee's public safety. In order to protect the public, we need to receive our fair share of funding from the State."

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