Detroit police seek information on block party shooting

Candice Williams and Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police and community leaders gathered Tuesday night near the site of a weekend shooting that killed one and injured 11 others and urged residents to come forward with information that could lead to suspects.

“The Police Department doesn’t solve crimes by themselves,” said Detroit police Capt. Charles Maholm to a room of more than 100 residents who gathered at the Dexter Elmhurst Community Center at the shooting site.

The meeting followed other weekend shootings around the city involving at least 12 more people and two more fatalities. The center near Dexter and Webb streets owns the parking lot and basketball court where the block party shootings occurred Saturday.

Emotions were high at times during the meeting where residents expressed frustration over crime in the city.

“We are all tired,” said Helen Moore, president of the center. “We see how terrible everything is. We came today to find out solutions to the problems the communities are having in Detroit.”

Earlier Tuesday, the assistant police chief gave the City Council an update on the block party shooting. No witnesses have stepped forward, he said, four days after the shooting.

“What happened? No one knows,” Assistant police Chief Steve Dolunt told council members. “Unfortunately, that’s your update. I have nothing.”

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield said at the council meeting the “no snitch” mentality in the city must stop. Just days ago, Sheffield held an “Occupy the Corner” event attended by 300 people. Occupy the Corner is a program aimed at stemming quashing violence and providing resources to impoverished city neighborhoods.

“We have to be loud in this community ... to say that when this happens in our communities, we are not going to allow it,” she said. “The community, clergy and leaders have to make a stand and say this is not acceptable.”

People should share what they know about crime, said City Council President Brenda Jones, echoing a similar plea over the weekend by Police Chief James Craig, when he urged the community to come forward with tips in the shooting.

“We need to start talking and telling who is doing what they should not be doing,” Jones said during the community meeting Tuesday evening. “We are just one step away from it happening to our families.”

Dolunt told the council he remains “incensed” over the block party shooting.

It’s a miracle, he said, no innocent children were casualties in the incident.

“There were kids out. This could have been terrible,” said Dolunt, adding that he arrived on the scene and saw an inflatable bounce house, stroller and child’s chair.

Police have called the shooting retaliatory and labeled the shooters “cowardly thugs.”

“It looks like everyone else was having a good time,” Dolunt said. “So what’s the crime in having a party on Saturday night? There’s no crime in that. That’s why I’m incensed. It makes the city look bad.”

The Rev. Charles Williams II of the National Action Network of Michigan urged people to get involved in their communities including starting block clubs and citizen patrols.

“We can also decide we’re going to do something that is going to be part of the change,” he said.

Detroiter Gina Peoples said she grew up in the area and is saddened by the change.

“I cry every time I come through here and see what this neighborhood has become,” she said. “When I heard about the shooting, I said that is enough.”