A teenager who was working the drive-thru at a Milwaukee Burger King when she was shot and killed in an apparent robbery may have staged the incident with her best friend and her best friend’s father who acted as the robber, court documents allege.
Niesha Harris-Brazell, 16, was working a shift with her best friend, Mariah Edwards, on January 2, when she was found fatally shot inside the fast-food joint.
Just a few minutes prior, surveillance footage caught a man in a red hoodie and a facemask waving a pistol around and demanding money as Harris-Brazell frantically took money out of the cash register and cried for help.
Investigators initially believed the man in the red hoodie who had demanded the cash, had shot and killed the 16-year-old.
But when they reviewed surveillance footage taken from another camera within the fast food joint, they discovered the ‘robber’ never opened fire, according to court documents, first obtained by FOX 6 News.
Instead, the shot was fired from within the Burger King, and Milwaukee police are now searching for Harris-Brazell’s co-worker, Derrick Ellis, 34, who apparently tried to shoot at the robber and inadvertently hit Harris-Brazell.
During the ensuing investigation, police discovered Mariah’s father, Antoine, was allegedly the man in the red hoodie.
He is alleged to have concocted the robbery with Harris-Brazell and his daughter.
Antoine, 41, is now facing charges of felony murder, intentionally contributing to the delinquency of a child with death a a consequence and possession of a firearm by a felon, while Ellis is facing murder charges.
It is unclear what charges Mariah may face.
Niesha Harris-Brazell, 16, was fatally shot during an apparently staged robbery at the Burger King she was working at on January 2
Antoine Edwards, 41, right, was identified as the robber seen in surveillance footage climbing through the drive-thru window that night when Derrick Ellis, left, fired two shots and inadvertently shot and killed Harris-Brazell
Her best friend, Mariah Edwards, seen here talking to the press following the shooting, reportedly told authorities she had staged the robbery with Harris-Brazell and her father, Antoine Edwards
According to a criminal complaint obtained by FOX 6 News, surveillance footage from inside the Burger King showed a Chevy Impala pull up to the drive-thru window shortly after 10pm on January 2.
The driver, now believed to be Antoine Edwards, then knocked on the window several times until a ‘juvenile male employee’ responded. The two reportedly spoke for a moment, before Edwards pulls away.
After the car left the window, Mariah said she and Harris-Brazell called his phone to confirm that was him, and about three minutes later, the same Impala and driver reappeared at the window.
Harris-Brazell then promptly opened the window, and quickly backed away from it so she was not in view of the driver as she starts taking out cash and calls out to other employees, ‘He’s got a gun.’
A short time later, FOX 6 reports, the driver steps out of the car and crawls through the drive-thru window holding a semiautomatic pistol, waving it at Harris-Brazell. Antoine said he decided to do so because he thought Harris-Brazell was taking too long to get him his money.
Surveillance footage then shows that the driver quickly ducked and pulled himself out of the window, while Harris-Brazell fell to the ground.
In the ensuing investigation, police found other surveillance footage from inside the fast-food joint showing Ellis responding to Harris-Brazell’s call for help, pulling out a gun and firing two shots at the thief.
He was then seen scrambling to pick up the shell casings from he floor, and was filmed running to the store manager who helped him stow the weapon in the store’s safe before he fled. He has not been seen since.
The store manager reportedly told authorities that Ellis usually comes to work with a weapon, and they helped him hide it because he is a convicted felon who is not allowed to possess a gun.
Surveillance footage from the Burger King showed the driver of a Chevy Impala, later identified Antoine Edwards, stepping out of the car and crawling through the drive-thru window holding a semiautomatic pistol
He had reportedly knocked on the drive-thru window a few minutes earlier and spoke to a young male worker, before coming back around three minutes later
Following that revelation, investigators say they then learned he driver of the Impala was Antoine Edwards, whose daughter Mariah was working in the kitchen at the time.
Mariah allegedly confessed that she, her father and Harris-Brazell coordinated the robbery at a time when they expected the register to be filled with cash. She claimed she and her father got Harris-Brazell involved in the scheme because she worked at the drive-thru window.
She claimed it was never part of the plan for Ellis to come to their aid, or for Harris-Brazell to die.
Antoine also allegedly confessed to the scheme, but said his daughter was not involved and that Harris-Brazell was his only accomplice.
Both father and daughter have now been arrested, as Harris-Brazell’s mother, Liceala Brazell, continues to claim her daughter was innocent.
‘It’s really making me mad, it’s making me angry,’ she said of the Edwards’ claims, noting that they have told so many lies.
And speaking directly to Mariah, Liceala said: ‘That’s not going to help you, that’s not going to help your father.’
Her grandmother Ida Lane also told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: ‘That’s complete and utter bulls***.
‘In all actuality, my granddaughter didn’t have to work. She had a grandmother that worked, a mother that worked, five aunties and one uncle that worked. My granddaughter didn’t have to do nothing but save what she needed or what she wanted.
‘We were trying to instill values in her,’ she said.
Fundraisers were set up for Harris-Brazell (pictured) in the aftermath of the shooting
In the aftermath of the fatal shooting, a GoFundMe was set up by Hazel-Brazell’s sister that took in more than $40,000.
A local restaurateur also led fundraising efforts for her family, raking in donations from the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yellich and Green Bay Packers icon Donald Driver.
Following the news that she may have staged the robbery, the restaurant owner, Omar Shaikh told FOX 6 News: ‘It wasn’t the news I wanted to hear, but I don’t regret it. You still have a family who lost a 16-year-old daughter.
‘I know a lot of families that live in certain areas don’t have a lot for reserves, don’t have money for a funeral.
‘I think the heart was in the right place and that family is suffering right now.’
He added that nobody has asked for their donations back.
Harris-Brazell’s fatal shooting came just about a week before another teenage girl was gunned down and killed during a robbery while working her shift at a Harlem Burger King.
Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19, was shot and killed while working at Burger King in Harlem on January 9
Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19, was working as a cashier at the Burger King at 116th Street and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem on January 9 when an armed robber entered the restaurant at around 1am.
The gunman pistol-whipped a male customer before punching a female manager in the face.
Bayron-Nieves, who just started the job three weeks ago, gave the robber $100 cash from the drawer, an eyewitness said, according to her mother.
The criminal turned to leave, but turned around again and shot Bayron-Nieves in the torso, according to the New York Post.
The teen was transported to nearby Metropolitan Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
‘She didn’t deserve to be mowed down while working at a Burger King,’ a police source said.
The robber, who has yet to be identified or apprehended, was described as a slim male who was wearing dark clothes and a black mask, according to the NYPD.