Wednesday evening, about 18 hours after a fatal shooting, the 600 block of State Street was a scene of relatively normalcy. The only visible reminder of the incident was an unmarked police car parked in front of State Street Brats, and the yellow paint marks in the middle of State Street marking where the homicide took place.
Earlier that afternoon, the Dane County Coroner's Office and the Madison Police Department released the names of the victim and alleged shooter. The 23-year-old man who was shot and killed was Austin Bodahl, a recent arrival to the city from Waconia, Minnesota, where his father was a former state legislator. The man arrested for the shooting was Daniel A. Kelly, a 31-year-old Madison resident and recognized fixture on State Street known for wearing a kilt. He is tentatively being charged with second-degree intentional homicide.
Online discussion about the murder on State Street continues, following a swift flurry of reactions and photos of the investigation published on Wednesday morning. The Madison Police Department, meanwhile, is soliciting possible witnesses to come forward and share information, particularly if they took cell phone photos of the fight on State Street between Kelly and Bodahl that allegedly preceded the shooting.
The shooting was no surprise to Ben Broeren, a Wisconsin-based freelance journalist and student (and Isthmus and thedailypage.com contributor). "I frequently see mentally-ill folks running around State Street, shouting at strangers dining outside and even inanimate objects," he wrote. "The only thing these people need is a gun." UW student Neil Paque, meanwhile, had numerous questions about the shooting and the fight that reportedly led to it. "It really highlights how unbelievably stupid these drunk, meaningless fights are," he wrote.
Several comments are brief, and focus on everything from the quick return to normalcy on the Street to mentions of witnesses. "An uninformed late-morning pedestrian wouldn't have guessed a shooting had taken place the previous night," wrote Capital Newspapers blogger Hastings Cameron early Wednesday afternoon, the only visible signal of an incident being a photographer and reporter at work in front of the City Bar. "My brother saw some guy get shot last night on State Street," simply noted a Kenosha woman, meanwhile.
Then there is Jamie Ivanov, a Towers private dormitories employee who heard about the shooting shortly after it occurred and took numerous photos of the subsequent police investigation. "Sure I still feel safe, but I would have never seen this coming," he wrote. "Madison is the safest city I have ever lived in, and then this happens, right across from where I work. Wow."
Others had much more detailed comments. One Milwaukeean republished a pair of press accounts on that city's LiveJournal group and subsequently opined about crime in Madison, a clear sign that perceptions of the city are changing. Having partied in Madison for 10 years now (and I'm suddenly feeling really old), things have definitely gone downhill up there," he wrote.
Similar sentiments were shared by a UW alumnus who declared the murder calls the city's reputation as a "secure environment" into question. "Over the 4 years I was an undergrad here at UW-Madison (2003 to 2007), I was witness to an escalation in both minor crime, as well as more violent offenses," he wrote. Fingering the city's drinking culture, policing of underage drinking as opposed to violent offenses, and media sensationalization of crime as a "massive" wave rather than a "slow steady increase," he concludes that solutions to the problem or at least perceptions of it will be difficult. "In the end, it may just be the case that these new crimes are a horribly unfortunate part of being a growing city," he concludes. "We cannot stop them altogether, we can only hope to minimize them as best as possible."
More details about Bodahl and Kelly along with commentary and reactions from State Street are reported in articles published in today's editions of the Wisconsin State Journal (here and here) and The Capital Times (here and here).
The most personal remarks, though, were published on Dane101 by a man who said Bodahl was his cousin and discussed their relationship and family. "I just want everyone to know that he wasn't some random kid without a home and a family, at times he looked rough, and unkept, but that was Austin, an individual," he wrote. "He was an important individual who will forever be missed."