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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
A man was fatally shot in the Francis Street parking structure early Sunday morning.

A man was fatally shot in the Francis Street parking structure early Sunday morning.

Man murdered in parking ramp off State Street minutes after Freakfest ends

A man was fatally shot shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday in the Francis Street parking garage, according to Madison police.

The victim was 21-year-old West Side resident Steven Villegas, whom police believe had come downtown to partake in Freakfest activities. His murder marks Madison’s fifth homicide this year.

Chief of Police Michael Koval said that officers on the street responded to shots they heard in real time coming from the Francis Street lot.

“We were just winding down Freakfest,” Koval said. “Everything seemed to be going so well, and we were starting to take back the streets and clear it for street maintenance.”

Koval said the heavy concentration of officers on the street due to Halloween allowed the department to respond rapidly to the incident report.

“We were literally able to saturate and flood the area within seconds,” Koval said. “In the context of doing that, they located a 21-year-old male on the pavement who had suffered a gunshot wound through the chest cavity torso area. The officers immediately began to administer lifesaving measures.”

The incident coincided with the conclusion of Freakfest, when all of the attendees who had parked their cars in the garage were making their way there to exit. Police were able to question attendees as they exited the garage, but so far, they have been unable to identify a person of interest.

“To those who may have been caught up in that bottleneck in getting out, I apologize, but we had an active crime scene and we wanted to be as methodical as we can in looking for evidence,” Koval said. “From that standpoint I think we did a thorough job.”

Students were warned about the crime via a WiscAlert message delivered at 2:11 a.m.

Based on crime scene details, Koval said it is possible that the victim had made his way to the garage from Whiskey Jack’s Saloon on State Street and that the victim and the suspect were known to each other before the shooting occurred.

It is also unclear why Villegas was in the garage in the first place — officers are not sure if he had driven himself to the event or had taken a ride with others.

While Koval said few details are known so far, the investigation is ongoing. Police urge anyone with information to come forward.

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