Gunfire in a Detroit eatery late Sunday that killed three men and put a fourth in the hospital was one of the latest examples of what the city’s Police Chief James Craig called a “senseless shooting,” which is a part of a rising violent crime rate.
At the same time, Craig also sought to assure the public Monday afternoon in an online call with reporters that despite the pandemic – and daily demonstrations – that officers are aggressively trying to investigate crimes and take guns off the streets.
Within 7 hours of the shooting, Craig said, police arrested a 25-year-old man who had an “extensive criminal record,” but was not named, appeared to walk into Eagle’s Coney Island on Dexter near Joy Road with others, but the 11 p.m. gathering turned violent as the suspect shot four other men, age 34, 24, 20 – and 28.
The 28-year-old, the chief said, was the only one to survive.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to each of the family members associated with those victims,” Craig added, praising detective work and anonymous tips from residents for helping to “identify and apprehend the violent perpetrator.”
Craig said the suspect was on parole and had a history of robbery and violent past. He is not expected to be arraigned until Wednesday. Police have sought search warrants to try to find the handgun.
The shooter, Craig said, ran out of the restaurant and left in a white pickup, that may have been driven by a 23-year-old woman who police are now seeking to locate and interview about the incident. He added that for now, she is not a suspect.
Craig said a video of the shooting that has been circulating on social media shows that the men seemed to be having a conversation with one of the victims before the gunfire erupted, but didn’t seem agitated.
“We just don’t know why,” the chief said. “Another senseless shooting.”
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Craig also reiterated his concerns Monday that there has been an increase in violent crime in Detroit, most likely a result of the pandemic and stay-at-home order that has stressed people out and recent protests.
During the weekend, he said, there were 33 shooting incidents, in which 26 people were injured and 7 killed. Over the past week, there were 10 slayings and 39 nonfatal shootings.
As of Monday, he said, violent crime in Detroit was up 7% from the year before.
The increase, he said, was offset by an 18% drop in property crime, and crime overall is still down. But, homicides and shootings are up, even as officers work to take guns off the street, seizing – over the past week alone – 113 guns.
Still, Craig said that the ongoing police brutality protests – most of which have been peaceful – have sapped the department of officers to patrol neighborhoods. On top of that, there also are now protests against summer school.
Craig said other major cities also are experiencing an uptick in violence, and, in his view, it is driven in part by the pandemic, the early release of criminals – and criminals who now feel especially emboldened to break the law.
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.