MILWAUKEE (WISN) — Milwaukee police officer Matthew Rittner was hit by one of four shots fired from an AK-47 pistol after he created an opening in a door with a ram during the execution of a search warrant, a criminal complaint filed Sunday said.
The complaint formally charges Jordan P. Fricke with first-degree intentional homicide and other crimes in the fatal shooting of the decorated 35-year-old officer.
The charging document says the “no knock” warrant was obtained through Milwaukee County Court Commissioner J.C. Moore after a confidential informant told police that Fricke was involved with the straw purchase of 13 to 15 weapons in recent months. The informant also worked with police to purchase marijuana on two occasions in the days leading up to the execution of the warrant.
Rittner was among nine officers of a tactical team assigned to execute the warrant on Wednesday morning. According to prosecutors, officers first used a two-person ram to breach a ground level floor at the rear of the home on the 2900 block of South 12th Street. As they gained entrance, they shouted, “Police” and “search warrant” multiple times while three officers, including Rittner, made their way up a set of stairs to an upper unit where Fricke lived.
One officer tried the door handle and found the door to be locked, so Rittner moved in with a one-man ram tool to breach the door. Rittner was able to strike the door three times before four gunshots were fired through the opening the tool created, the complaint said.
Rittner fell to the floor and was carried outside as other officers moved in to arrest Fricke.
The officer died at Froedtert Hospital. An autopsy revealed that he was struck once in the upper chest and shoulder area. The bullet pierced both lungs and his aorta. Three metal fragments were recovered near his right shoulder and chest wall, the complaint said.
A search of Fricke’s home turned up a Century Arms Zastava AK-47 semi-automatic pistol, eight other firearms, a Taser, weapons parts, a safe with $3,000 cash and equipment used in drug sales, the complaint said.
Prosecutors said the other shots that Fricke allegedly fired through the door nearly struck the other officers. Bullets were also recovered from a garage door across the alley from the home and from a chimney on top of the garage.
“These rounds endangered individuals in the alley, outside the residence, and in the residences across the alley, as well as the two officers on the landing outside the kitchen door,” prosecutors said in the complaint.
Fricke and his girlfriend, identified only as “KP,” were allegedly sleeping when the tactical unit moved in. Both admitted, according to the complaint, hearing police announce themselves and the search warrant.
Fricke allegedly told authorities that he didn’t think it was actually police attempting to enter his home, the complaint said. All nine members of the tactical unit were wearing gear identifying themselves as police. Fricke reportedly said he didn’t realize it was actually police at his door until he’d fired through it and saw an officer’s uniform.
Rittner, a 17-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department and a Marine who served in Iraq, was the third Milwaukee officer killed in the line of duty in eight months.
Fricke faces life in prison if convicted of a first degree intentional homicide charge. He was also charged with first degree recklesslessly endangering safety and with maintaining a drug trafficking place.
He remained in jail Sunday. Court records did not list an attorney who could speak for him.