June 4, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Police blame gangs, family violence for 10-day spike in Detroit shootings

Detroit— Family violence and gang wars are largely responsible for a crime spike that includes 12 homicides and 100 shootings during the past 10 days, police said.

According to Detroit Police Department data, 19 shootings and 65 assaults since May 24 have involved family members, while a feud on the city’s west side between the RTM (Related Through Money) and TNO (Trust No One) gangs has resulted in several shootings. These include an incident in broad daylight on Strathmoor that ended with five people shot, including an 11-year-old girl, police said.

While officers from the 2nd Precinct were investigating the Strathmoor incident the afternoon of May 24, there was another shooting and a stabbing nearby.

“That was a brutal day,” Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt said during Wednesday’s weekly COMPSTAT meeting of police officials.

In addition to the incident on Strathmoor, police believe the TNO gang is responsible for six shootings during the past 10 days.

Although year-to-date there has been a 9 percent decrease in violent crimes from the same period last year, police officials said the recent spate of shootings was a concern.

“Shootings and aggravated assaults are starting to climb,” Dolunt said. “That’s the area where we’re having the biggest struggle right now.”

Police say their investigations are hampered because the victims refuse to cooperate. Of the 100 shootings since May 26, 28 victims told officers they didn’t know what happened — classified as “heard shots, felt pain” — and 10 were shot while committing a crime, Dolunt said.

“It’s frustrating,” Dolunt said. “You ask ‘Who shot you?’ and they tell us they were walking down the street, heard a noise and noticed they’d been shot. We don’t believe most of these guys.”

Dolunt said 43 of the shooting victims were on probation, and 14 on parole.

Police Chief James Craig pointed out that criminals who get shot aren’t likely to tell police what really happened.

“Say you’ve got a bad guy in illegal possession of a gun, and he shoots himself, or gets shot while trying to do a robbery,” Craig said. “He’s not going to tell the investigator, ‘Oh, I was carrying a gun illegally, or I was about to rob someone.’ So they tell us they don’t know what happened.”

In the 5th Precinct, which covers the city’s east side, there were 32 aggravated assaults, 16 of which were domestic violence incidents.

For the week ending June 1, homicides were down from 134 in 2013 to 102 this year; sexual assaults were down from 366 to 338; robberies down from 2,076 to 1,519; and violent crimes down from 5,937 to 5,394.

Aggravated assaults are up from 3,361 through June 1 last year to 3,435 this year.

ghunter@detroitnews.com
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