Milwaukee police are investigating the death of a 23-year-old man who was fatally shot with a handgun during the armed robbery of a polka bar Aug. 16. Bar owner Andy Kochanski said he pulled the trigger in self-defense after three armed men tried to rob the bar at gunpoint.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that three men tried to rob Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall shortly before midnight Aug. 15. There were only seven customers on the premises when the suspects allegedly came in brandishing weapons and making forceful demands. Kochanski fired on the robbers, killing one of them. Two others fled the scene.
“I defended myself,” Kochanski told WITI. “I did the shooting. Two guys with guns, what are you going to do? Protect yourself and your customers, that’s what I did.”
According to WISN, Kochanski has used his gun to defend the bar before. In 2008, men in ski masks armed with a sawed-off shotgun stormed the Concertina bar during a Christmas party. Kochanski fired at the suspects, and they fled. One customer suffered a gunshot wound in that incident.
"All that went through my mind was, 'Oh my God, I'm going to have to kill these guys,'" Kochanski told the Journal-Sentinel at the time.
This time, Kochanski told WITI that he had no regrets, and that he'd "do it again" if he had to. Despite the violence, he insists that the bar is a fun place in a "great neighborhood."
Other residents are less convinced. Steven Loder, a customer at the Concertina, told the station that he'd "boarded up" his house, installed locks and cameras, and that he "[owned] a couple of weapons."
Update: 1:50 p.m. -- On Monday, Kochanski met with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, who determined that he had been justified in the use of his gun in self defense, according to a statement released by his attorney:
"[The] Milwaukee County District Attorneys Office... quickly reaffirmed Mr. Kochanski’s justified and appropriate use of his firearm in self-defense. Mr. Kochanski will continue to support law enforcement’s efforts to hold the other two robbers accountable through the criminal justice system. Mr. Kochanski would like to thank the Milwaukee County law enforcement community for their professional handling of his situation. He would also like to thank the entire Milwaukee community for their overwhelming support."
The other suspects in the robbery may face additional charges because their accomplice died while they were allegedly committing a crime.