The Wayne County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday laid charges against a man accused of shooting four people, killing three, indiscriminately in northwest Detroit on Sunday morning.
Dontae Ramon Smith, 19, is charged with three counts of first degree murder; five counts of carrying a firearm while committing a crime; one count of assault with intent to murder and one count of torturing an animal.
A dog was also shot in the shooting.
Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges at an arraignment hearing on Wednesday afternoon. He was being held in the Wayne County Jail and was denied bail for murder.
Wayne County District Attorney Kym Worthy said Wednesday the case will be “prosecuted aggressively.”
“It is no exaggeration to say that on Sunday morning August 28th, like a scene from a movie, this alleged defendant brought utter terror to the citizens of Northwest Detroit. Normal daily life was disrupted as ‘He was moving east towards his next victim,’ Worthy said in a statement.
Police believe Smith may be suffering from mental illness. Smith does not appear to have a violent criminal history, according to court records.
Smith is due back in court for a probable cause hearing at 8:30 a.m. on September 14 via Zoom, and an in-person preliminary examination at 1:45 p.m. on September 21.
Smith was apprehended Monday night at his home in the 7300 block of Pembroke Avenue without further incident. His arrest follows a multi-agency manhunt led by Detroit police, with the help of surveillance footage, members of the community and a relative of the suspect who sent a tip to police .
Ballistics analysis matched a 9mm pistol recovered from Smith’s home to bullets found at the crime scenes, police said.
While the suspected shooter was at large, communities in Detroit were “terrified,” especially spooked by children preparing for their first day of school on Monday, Detroit Police Chief James White said during a briefing. a press conference on Monday. Police had not determined a motive and said the shootings appeared random.
Smith is accused of shooting his first victim at 4:45 a.m. near Seven Mile Road and Wyoming Avenue. A 28-year-old man, Chayne Lewis Lee, was repeatedly approached and killed with a 9mm pistol, according to Detroit Police Cmdr. Michael McGinnis.
Police believe Smith walked away after shooting Lee, then returned and fired more bullets at him, McGinnis said.
“It is alleged that the defendant Smith shot Mr. Lee several times, and when he fell to the ground, Smith continued to shoot Mr. Lee. His lifeless body was discovered lying in the doorway of ‘a church by Detroit police officers. It is alleged that the accused walked away from the scene,” Assistant District Attorney Maria Miller said in a press release Wednesday.
Detroit police did not receive a 911 call for this incident, McGinnis said.
Police received the first call of gunfire about 30 minutes later and about three blocks away. Officers discovered an unidentified woman lying on the sidewalk with gunshot wounds. The woman, who was killed, was first discovered by a neighbor. Police are asking for the community’s help in identifying the victim, described as a black woman in her 40s who lives near Wyoming and Margareta avenues.
A third victim, LaRi Jobina Brisco, was shot while waiting for a ride at a U-Haul rental store on Livernois Avenue. She had planned to move out that day. After firing several shots at Brisco, Smith reportedly walked away and fired additional shots at him.
Brisco is described by those close to her as “a proud and devoted single mother of five children and grandmother of two”, according to a A GoFundMe fundraising page created in his memory.
The fourth and final victim, John Palik, 76, was shot in the leg around 7:10 a.m. a few blocks from Livernois Avenue in the 19200 block of Pennington Drive. He was walking his dog, Kingston, who was shot in the paw. Both survived.
Palik told the Free Press that his neighbors saved his life. He is grateful to be alive.