Details of crime, life make for sad story
Posted: Jan. 25, 2005
It's hard to feel sorry for Edward G. Travis Jr., who armed himself to rob a convenience store and wound up dead in front of the meat counter.
On a sympathy scale, Travis ranks somewhere below the woman in Racine who faked cancer as a scam to raise money, and even below the guy/gal in a Wisconsin prison who wants taxpayers to fund a sex-change operation.
Travis' demise doesn't even show up in the city's daily murder count because it was self-defense. He has disappeared into the ether between murders No. 5 and 6 for the young year.
"His death literally doesn't count," said Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz.
Surprising no one who bothered to pay attention to this case, the district attorney's office on Tuesday ruled the death justifiable. All that's left is to put him in the ground.
Last Thursday, Travis ran into the Ayesh Food Market at 19th and Hampton with a knife over his head like the shower scene in "Psycho" and yelled, "Give me the money or I'll kill you."
Store workers chose neither option. The cashier grabbed a revolver and leaped over the counter. By then, another worker had run to the back of the store with Travis in pursuit.
Travis then cornered the cashier, who emptied the gun into him.
Too many of these corner-store robberies go the other way. The clerks, even those who cooperate and hand over money, are killed by the intruders.
Travis fell victim to an occupational hazard. Gun trumped knife. Store owners can legally keep firearms behind the counter. Anyone in need of fast cash does well to remember that.
An employee at Ayesh told me that the cashier feels terrible. He did not wake up that morning thinking he would take another person's life. There were no high fives in the store.
Resisting a robber is risky, of course. But it worked out in this incident and in two others recently. A janitor at a north side church said no to three teenage robbers and pulled out his gun, shooting and wounding the 15-year-old who was aiming a gun at him.
And the clerks at a Villard Ave. pet shop foiled a robber because they believed his gun to be a toy. They locked the door, leaving the bad guy begging them to open it and let him run away.
Details from the Ayesh store incident are simply sad. The employee said Travis was reported as looking "drugged out" in his final moments. An officer who viewed the body on the floor noticed that he was using a rope for a belt, suggesting a guy barely getting by.
Besides the knife, the only thing he had on him was a cigarette butt. Police had to dip his finger in ink to figure out who he was.
When his name popped up, so did an arrest warrant that's now moot. It seems that Travis, 42, stabbed his wife two days earlier, seriously injuring her.
I stopped by this week at the house on N. 19th Place where Travis is said to have lived. The place was dark, and the walks leading to the doors were covered in deep snow. No one answered the door.
From the front porch I looked to the south and could see the glowing yellow sign of Ayesh Food Market about a block away.
I wondered if Travis had stood in the same place and plotted the crime. Did he think: What could go wrong? I'll have a knife. They'll just give me the money. In and out.
But his sorry existence was about to end on the cold floor in front of the steaks and chops.
From the Jan. 26, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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