Detroit — James Blade was known around town by his pink BMW.
“Everybody in the neighborhood knew my brother by that car,” said Blade’s sister, Evelyn Cross. Blade and Cross are two of 20 siblings.
But the flash belied the quiet life of a man who lived alone, was a pastor, and whose routine included attending church every week, bowling, dining out and going to thrift stores.
“He was really private about a lot of things,” said Cross. “He had a birthday on Oct. 12, but there was no party because he wasn’t a party person.”
Part of his routine also involved making weekly deposits at the Charter One bank in the 16500 block of East Warren Avenue on Detroit’s east side. But someone was watching Friday morning. Blade was sitting in that pink BMW at 9:45 a.m. when his sister said he apparently was killed. Detroit police are not confirming his name.
The brazen attack left at least seven bullet holes in the car. Detroit police Capt. Charles Mahone said the shooting occurred around 9:45 a.m. as the car was stopped at the bank window. The suspect fired at least seven shots through the passenger window and may have walked around to the driver’s side to pull the victim from the car.
“What kind of person does something like that?” asked Cross. “If they had asked him, he would have given up everything.” She said her brother usually never carried more than $20 or $30 at a time.
Cross said she learned of her brother’s death when her nephew called.
“He asked if Uncle James had sold his car because there was a car like his on television at the scene of a robbery and killing,” said Cross. She said she then ran over to bank. “They had already taken him to the hospital when I got there, and I heard the robber took his ID, but that he had been identified by his license plate.”
She said when her son went to the hospital to see Blade, who has two children, and two grandchildren, her son was told he could not see him.
The 12-cylinder luxury car, once was owned by professional football player Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. He had it painted pink in 2009 in support of breast cancer awareness.
Police continue to investigate.
Mahone said may have walked around to the driver’s side to pull the victim from the car.
Friday morning, more than a half dozen shell casings lay on the ground on ahead of car on the passenger's side. A plate on the front of the vehicle reads: "Let me tell you about my grandchildren."
Police are examining security camera footage from the Charter One location to help identify the shooter. He is described as a tall male wearing a distinctive hoodie.
Blade was on the minister’s board at two east side churches, including the Open Door Church of God in Christ on East Seven Mile Road in Detroit.
A sign in the window of Charter One said the branch was temporarily closed.
Beyond its unusual color, the car itself presents an interesting piece of a tragic puzzle. It was sold late last year at Motor City Pawn Brokers Inc. in Roseville.
In 2009, Johnson had his BMW 760Li painted pink with matching interior to raise awareness of breast cancer, according to his Twitter account @ChrisJohnson28. In Florida, Johnson’s home state, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has Johnson listed as a previous owner of the BMW.
Workers next door at ABE Auto Service heard the shots and stopped their work Friday.
"We heard ‘pop, pop, pop, pop’ — about five or six rounds," said Mark Mayer, a St. Clair Shores resident who works at the shop.
His co-worker, Detroit resident Jerry Miller, instinctively threw himself on the ground when he heard the shots.
"I grew up on the northwest side of town," he said. "It's a natural reaction."