Eastpointe residents Florence and Raymond Miller said bullets struck their home and minivan in Friday's shooting. 'This never happens here, and I've been here 45 years,' said Florence Miller. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Detroit — Michelle Tutt spent much of Friday in shock over the events that affected her family.
First, one of her teen nieces was shot while walking to school in Eastpointe, allegedly by an older man believed to have been involved with the girl’s sister. Then, Tutt learned police believe the same man committed suicide in the Greektown Casino parking lot hours later.
“I’m definitely shocked by it,” Tutt said. “You don’t expect something like this.”
Authorities are investigating whether the man found dead Friday morning was also involved in the earlier shooting in Eastpointe.
“It appeared to us to be a suicide, and it may be related to the incident in Eastpointe,” said Capt. Conway Petty of the Detroit Police Department Homicide Squad. “We did recover a weapon at the scene.”
A 32-year-old Waterford Township man, who was employed at the Oakland County Water Resources Commission, was under investigation for an alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl he had met online. It is suspected the man was stalking the girl as she was on her way to school Friday morning and tried to shoot her but missed, wounding her 13-year-old sister in the leg, before speeding away. Eastpointe police confirmed the shooting took place about 7 a.m. Friday on Firwood, south of Nine Mile and west of Gratiot.
“We had a complaint filed a couple weeks ago and have been investigating it, including interviewing him,” said Waterford Township Police Chief Daniel McCaw, who noted no charges had been filed yet in the case.
Tutt said she and her husband learned last month their niece, who lived with her, had been communicating with the man online and admitted to spending a night with him. They immediately restricted her Internet access at home and enrolled the teen in another school, Tutt said. A police report also was filed.
Tutt said Waterford authorities came to her house this week asking if the family had seen the man, who they said was missing and had left a suicide note.
After that, Tutt said she and her husband advised the 15-year-old and her sister to be careful leaving and monitored them as much as possible. However, she said, “you could be the greatest parent alive — there’s no way you could predict a situation like this.”
One of the teenage victims reported a blue Ford Fusion drove past them and fired several shots before speeding away. Tutt said the girls told her the man tried to lure the older one to the car but “they took off running and he started shooting.”
The vehicle and the suspect were both located in Detroit, according to police, who said the matter remains under investigation.
Petty said authorities received a call about the body in the Greektown Casino parking lot about 7:45 a.m. Friday.
Petty said Detroit police were alerted by the Eastpointe police to be on the lookout for a blue Ford Fusion that was believed to have been involved in the Eastpointe shooting.
Police have been looking for the man, who is on leave from his job, for about a week. Co-workers at the Oakland County Resources Commission — where he has been employed for 10 years as a maintenance laborer — were placed in a lockdown Thursday and notified by email that if he showed up he should not be let into the building. Workers were advised to notify building safety if they happened to see the man.
“He apparently had threatened a young woman, possibly a co-worker,” said McCaw, who provided no further details regarding that incident.
The shooting in Eastpointe shocked neighbors starting their day, including Florence Miller, who said her home was pocked with bullet holes that came from the incident.
Miller, who lives a few houses down the street from the girls, said she saw both of them when she opened her front door about 7 a.m. to grab her morning newspaper. The 13-year-old was standing in front of Miller’s house.
When she shut the door, the sound of gunfire echoed from the street. Miller looked out her window and saw the shooting was coming from a moving vehicle, but it was still dark out and she couldn’t see the make or model of the vehicle or who was driving it.
“This never happens here, and I’ve been here 45 years,” said Miller, who lives on the block with her husband, Raymond.
The 13-year-old is “doing phenomenal” and was expected to return from the hospital today, Tutt said.
She’s concerned about both girls but still is grappling with the reality of the situation. “It’s a terrible situation,” she said. “I wish it never happened.”