Detroit— The unofficial start of summer has ushered in a wave of violence in the city, with 36 shootings and four slayings since the Memorial Day weekend kicked off Friday.
Among the shootings: An assailant who died when his cohort’s gun went off while he pistol-whipped a man; an 11-year-old girl who was among five injured during a gunfight in broad daylight; and a 15-year-old shot by a high school classmate who reportedly was angry he wasn’t invited to a party.
“It was a brutal weekend, there’s no getting around it,” Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt said.
“We’re doing what we can. Crime is down and we’re making good arrests. But there’s only so much the police can do,” said Dolunt. “A lot of these shootings couldn’t have been prevented. A lot of them happened inside houses, and we simply can’t be inside everyone’s home.”
As of Wednesday, shootings in Detroit were down 15 percent from the same period last year, from 425 to 361. Overall violent crime is down 10 percent.
Still, with 10 percent of this year’s shootings occurring since the holiday weekend, police officials are concerned. Dolunt discussed the spike in violence during Wednesday’s COMPSTAT meeting, at which department officials meet weekly to discuss crime trends and strategies to address them.
Dolunt said police are trying to balance being proactive while ensuring they aren’t violating people’s rights.
“(Chief James Craig) insists on constitutional policing, so we can’t just arrest people because we think they’re doing something wrong,” he said. “Nobody wants to violate the citizens’ civil rights, but we also have to be aggressive.”
Police scrambled during the weekend to investigate the steady stream of shootings, 31 on the city’s west side:
■A man was killed at 11 p.m. Monday, when two men were reportedly assaulting a victim near the intersection of St. Mary’s and Elmira on the northwest side. “One of the men was pistol-whipping the victim when his gun went off, and his partner was shot in the neck,” Dolunt said.
■An 11-year-old girl was playing outside her home in the 14800 block of Strathmoor about 4:45 p.m. when a group of unknown men opened fire, igniting a gunfight. The girl was listed in serious condition after being shot in the leg, while four adults also were wounded.
■ A 15-year-old boy was playing a video game in his home in the 19000 block of Keating on the east side at about 10:30 p.m. when a bullet crashed through the window, striking him in the chest with a non-fatal wound. “The shooter was identified as the victim’s classmate at high school who was upset he didn’t get invited to a party,” Dolunt said.
■A 14-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy were shot at about 5 a.m. Monday as they sat inside a stolen van near Beechwood and Pacific on the west side. Police say the victims were riding with a 13-year-old friend who stole the van. The teens are expected to recover.
■Johnny Clyburn, a 41-year-old Air National Guard airman, was fatally shot Tuesday morning, allegedly by his fiancee’s 19-year-old mentally ill son. The teen also shot his 39-year-old mother twice; she was listed in temporary serious condition.
■Two bodies were found inside cars over the weekend: A 40-year-old woman, discovered Saturday in the 4300 block of McGraw with two gunshot wounds; and an unknown victim found Tuesday inside the trunk of a burned-out car
Several of this week’s shootings were drug-related, Dolunt said.
“In a lot of these cases, the victim tells us they just heard shots and felt pain,” he said. “That usually means they’re up to no good.”