Detroit – The city’s police department is still seeking answers as to why a 19-year-old man allegedly shot four people indiscriminately in the city early Sunday morning, killing three.
At a press conference on Monday, Detroit Police Chief James White described a 24-hour effort to locate the suspect by Detroit police and other law enforcement agencies, including the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
White said law enforcement “worked tirelessly” to track the shooting, which officials said essentially amounted to “an active shooter moving around the community.”
Detroit Police Commander Michael McGinnis, whose team is leading the investigation, said the first victim was attacked around 4:45 a.m. Sunday near 7 Mile and Wyoming. McGinnis said the assailant fired multiple shots at the victim in what appeared to be an unprovoked incident.
At some point, the assailant would have walked away and returned to fire more shots, McGinnis said. The victim did not survive and has not been identified by Detroit police.
But no one reported an incident, Mayor Mike Duggan noted at the news conference.
About 30 minutes later, the shooter attacked again, about three blocks from the first kill. After a neighbor saw the victim, the neighbor made the first 911 call about the series of gunshots, police said.
According to McGinnis, when police arrived on the scene, they found a woman on the sidewalk with gunshot wounds. She did not survive.
The investigator said he was unable to identify the woman as of Monday afternoon and described her as a black woman in her 40s from the area around Margarita and Wyoming roads.
As officers responded to the victim on the sidewalk, a witness told police about a 28-year-old man who had been shot. Then police said they heard another volley of gunfire from the east, coming from the 19800 block of Livernois. This victim did not survive.
The latest shooting took place a few blocks away at 7:10 a.m., when an 80-year-old man was walking his dog. The shooter fired at him and the dog, hitting the man in the leg, police said. Neighbors responded quickly, treated his injuries and took him to hospital, where he survived.
Detroit police officials said at a Monday news conference that mental illness may have been a factor. The suspect was eventually arrested sunday evening after a long manhunt.
When it became clear that the shootings appeared to be linked, White said the department activated its real-time crime center, mobile command post and crime analysts, while contacting crime partners. Project Green Light — the city’s corporate surveillance camera system — to get surveillance. information.
Police got a glimpse of the suspect, White said. After police released a photo and details of the suspect to the public, someone who knew the suspect called a tip which led to an arrest.
“All of this working together helped us quickly identify our suspect,” White said. “We are at the beginning of the investigation, but we are convinced, we are convinced that the suspect that we have in custody is in fact our suspect in these cases.”
The department linked the four shootings using evidence recovered from the scene, the police chief said. The casings found at each site were 9mm casings and were ultimately confirmed to have been fired from the same gun, White said.
Efforts by law enforcement and community members have potentially helped prevent more violence, he said. The efforts showed the ministry’s commitment.
“We don’t joke about crime,” White said. “We are not going to allow our community to be victimized.”
Duggan praised the police department for their work, saying he was at the command center in person on Sunday as the response was underway.
“Yesterday the Detroit Police Department was at its best,” he said.
“The shootings touched the hearts of everyone in the city,” he continued. “Innocent people living their life in a neighborhood on a Sunday morning and shooting for no other reason than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
City Council member Coleman A. Young II highlighted concerns about gun violence in the community and pledged to work with the mayor to address the issue.
“We have to do something about the gun problem in our community, about the violence problem in our community,” he said.
“Once we get back to work on city council, we are ready to work with the mayor…on what we can do to stop gun violence in the city.”
Among the initiatives Duggan awaits board action on is a proposed $7.5 million expansion of the the city’s ShotSpotter system as well as a $1.5 million renewal of existing system software. Officers have removed 257 firearms from the streets since starting the original $1.5 million contract, according to Detroit Police Department data provided to the board in early June.
Gail Fulton, the city council’s liaison to Mayor Mike Duggan’s office, said that when the issue was put on the agenda of a council committee by mistake and asked for more time for the community engagement.
ShotSpotter is an aerial gunfire detection system that received approval in 2020 for a four-year, $1.5 million deal. Audio system software detects and alerts police to gunshots and returns to the city as part of a federal crackdown on violence.
The city rolled out the California-based SST system in the first quarter of 2021 to six square miles in the eighth and ninth police stations. The proposed expansion would move the system to other council districts, but not across the city.
“Yesterday’s tragic shootings and murders were another unfortunate reminder that the City of Detroit has a real problem with gun violence,” Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield said in a statement Monday.
“Instead of examining hypotheticals of using yet another unproven reactionary tool to try to prevent gun violence, my office and I will remain vigilant to address the root causes and take a more proactive approach to ending to gun violence in our community.
“However, at this time, we should all be focused on the victims and provide support to their families and show our gratitude to the Detroit Police Department and our law enforcement partners as well as the family of the suspect for ending this recent reign of terror.”
Editor Jennifer Chambers contributed to this report.