Police: No weapon found after fatal crash in Detroit
Despite reports from Detroit police officers that a weapon was seen inside a Chevy Camaro, none was found in the car or on the suspects who struck and killed two children and injured three others as they sped through an east side neighborhood to get away from police.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday the fatal crash remains under investigation and that it is not yet certain if the supervisor overseeing the officer called the chase off.
Killed in the Wednesday evening incident were 6-year-old Michelangelo Jackson and 3-year-old Makiah Jackson, who were identified by their aunt Rose Scott. One child is in critical condition and two others are hospitalized in serious condition.
Craig said the supervisor said he did try to call off the chase and "it's a likelihood he could have tried." Craig added "at this point" police don't have information the supervisor tried to end the pursuit.
"It doesn't mean it did not happen," said Craig.
The driver was identified by police as a 29-year-old parole absconder for a conviction for possession of methamphetamine. The passenger is in the hospital and has been identified. No charges had been issued as of Thursday afternoon.
The chase began Wednesday evening after police officers in the three-officer vehicle "made eye contact" with the suspects, Craig said. After that, the pursuit began with lights and sirens activated.
A weapon was reportedly seen by the officers, Craig said, but none was found following the incident. A resident in the area reported that he did see one on one of the suspects after the crash ended, he said.
The crash happened at 7:41 p.m. Wednesday on Nottingham near Frankfort on the city's east side. The chase started blocks away, near Chatsworth and Cornwall, said Sgt. Cassandra Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.
Craig said his department is "re-evaluating vehicle pursuits" following the crash but added "public safety is our priority."
He said the policy of the Detroit Police Department is to "gauge" the pursuit. The three police officers in the pursuing police officer are on restrictive duties pending the investigation into the crash.
Meanwhile relatives and neighbors are trying to understand the events of a crash that left two children dead and three other youths and an adult injured Wednesday night, questioning why anyone would be racing down a residential street filled with youngsters.
Thursday morning, family members pointed to skid marks running along a 100-foot stretch of sidewalk on Nottingham Street, where a suspect's car left the road, jumped onto the sidewalk and struck down two children, ages 3 and 6, playing outside their home, dragging their bodies into street and leaving them for dead.
Another 500 feet down Nottingham Street, the suspect's car continued on the grass in front of homes, striking the wood porch of a vacant home and finally slamming into three young boys playing in the driveway of a home where a family barbecue was underway in the backyard.
Those three children remain hospitalized with injuries. One has been airlifted to the University of Michigan.
Arbrey Gardner said his 7-year-old son's lungs are collapsed and the child remains on a ventilator.
"They called in some specialists from the University of Michigan because there is nothing they can do. His lungs ... completely collapsed. They can't get him to breathe like he is supposed to," Arbrey Gardner said of his son, Zyaire, who was air-lifted to UM just after noon Thursday.
Arbrey Gardner was at the house when the incident happened about 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday.
"When it all happened, he (Zyaire) was laying on the porch in shock. I spoke to him. He came out of shock and he screamed. I put my hand on his chest, and I felt he was broken. I told him it was going be OK. He was halfway breathing. I could tell his lungs was filling up with something," he said.
Zyaire saw the car coming, Arbrey said, and grabbed his cousin, 3-year-old Darius Andrews Jr., who remained in critical condition at the hospital.
"He (Zyaire) is the real hero. He saved my son's life. He grabbed him and tried to hold him," Darius said. Darius Andrews said he spent the night with his son at the hospital.
"He has a brace on his neck. He just wants to go home. He is in ICU. He wasn't doing the things he needed to be doing," he said.
The third surviving victim, Isiah Williams, 5, also remained hospitalized in serious condition.
The crash, at 7:41 p.m. Wednesday on Nottingham near Frankfort on the city's east side, came after police had been pursuing a man with a gun in a Chevy Camaro, police said.
The chase lasted about 75 seconds, police said, before officers "lost sight" of the red car, Detroit police Chief James Craig told WJBK-TV, and then saw a "plume of smoke, suggesting a collision. ... As they got closer, they saw children laying in the roadway."
Craig said the Camaro was traveling at speeds "in excess of 70 mph." The car apparently crashed into a porch, where the injured adult was with several children, neighbors said.
Michelangelo and Makiah died after being struck at another location on Nottingham as the car sped away from the porch.
Rose Scott, said her niece and nephew were regular kids out playing on a summer night. Shecreated a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for funeral expenses.
"We are trying to put together something to have a joint ceremony for both of them...They were just kids doing whatever they were doing outside. They weren't playing in the street," Scott said.
According to the slain children's grandmother, Nadesa Jackson, the car was speeding down the street and came up onto the sidewalk. It struck a large boulder on the lawn near the sidewalk then struck the two children, dragging them into the street about 500 feet and then continued on down the block, striking three more children at another house.
Michelangelo just finished his first-grade year at a west side elementary school, Scott said, and Makiah was always playing with her 4-year-old cousin, Scott's daughter.
Scott said her sister, the children's mother who is expecting, remained at home Thursday with her 7-month-old baby, trying to process what happened to her two oldest children.
"She is not in a right state of mind to make any type of plans...Who can ever think you had to deal with this. She is very devastated," Scott said.
Scott said the driver never stopped after striking both children.
"He drove down the street and was hitting kids on the sidewalk. He didn't hit one and stop. He was driving on the sidewalk hitting kids one after the other," Scott said.
Two suspects have been arrested, one with a handgun in his possession, police said. One suspect, a passenger, was taken to a hospital with a broken arm, police said.
"Two children died as a result of the accident," Craig said at the scene Wednesday night. "Our prayers and hearts go out to the families and our officers are certainly struggling in the aftermath."
Police transported the children — including the injured, described as ranging in age from 2 to 7 — to a local hospital. One woman, 21, was in temporary serious condition, Lewis said. One suspect, a passenger, was taken to a hospital with a broken arm, she said.
Police and investigators remained on the scene for hours, combing yards with flashlights and talking to neighbors.
Debris lay in the intersection cordoned off by yellow police tape.
Some neighbors were on cellphones and stood in small groups near a streetlight, shaking their heads as they learned more details about the incident.
The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality issued this statement Thursday, saying the Coalition is re-examining Detroit Police Department chase protocols.
"For the past several years, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality has been advocating for a change in state and local policies involving high speed chases initiated by law enforcement," the statement read.
"Currently, most police departments face little or no liability in matters where death or injury is caused in situations like the one last night, where two young children died.
"Though we are not fully aware of all of the matters and are currently investigating the particulars, we can say that two wrongs do not make a right. If it was wrong for the chased driver to drive recklessly, irresponsibility, and dangerously, it is equally reckless, dangerous and irresponsible for police to give chase in a highly populated residential neighborhood."