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Family: Neighborhood ‘beef’ led to fatal shooting of 3

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — In the hours after three men were slain early Monday in what police described as a drug house, spasms of violence revisited the neighborhood.

A man who rushed toward the taped-off crime scene calls out, “Where’s my nephew? Where’s my nephew?” before becoming faint and getting checked by medical personnel Monday morning at the scene of a triple fatal shooting on the 6500 block of Brace in Detroit.

Crowds gathered outside the west side home on the 6500 block of Brace and tensions rose throughout the day, only to be tamped down and then rise again.

As police were investigating what led to the killings, people began yelling and shoving one another. Bishop Daryl Harris, who works with the Police Department’s Ceasefire initiative, stepped forward to calm the scene.

A prayer circle formed around him.

“For everybody here, please soothe the heart,” Harris prayed. “Don’t let us fall apart right now.”

“We’ve taken a great loss today. We ask, God, that you accept their souls in your heart and give them peace in this moment.”

Almost immediately, the crowd was calmed, and there were even some smiles amid the tragedy.

The victims, all men, were found inside the house after police received a call of shots fired at about 5:22 a.m. One was shot while standing in a doorway; two others were shot inside the living room, Sgt. Michael Woody said. Late Monday, police had yet to release identifications; all were in their 20s, said Officer Dan Donakowski.

By 8:30 a.m., Michigan State Police had formed a four-vehicle wall at the intersection of Brace and Whitlock to prevent the crowd and motorists from approaching the crime scene.

Detroit Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said police raided the home in April and again in May after complaints from neighbors. One arrest was made in the April raid, and that person might be one of the victims of Monday’s shooting, he said. The house had “some” drug paraphernalia inside.

Angela Owens Brown, 50, said her son De-Angelo Smith Owens, 25, was among the victims. He was the renter of the home, she said.

Owens Brown said her son “made his money and did what he had to do,” but denied his death was related to drugs or gang activity. She says her son was trying to defuse a neighborhood conflict and got caught in the middle of it.

De-Angelo Smith Owens, 25, was one of three people killed in a Monday morning shooting on Detroit’s west side, said his mother, Angela Owens Brown.

The shooting, she said, came hours after her son hosted a “smoke-out” a gathering where people smoke marijuana at the house.

Smith Owens was a father of four — 7-, 3-, 2-, and 1-year-olds — with another baby on the way.

Owens Brown said Smith Owens will be the seventh child of 12 she will have to bury.

Roger Collins Jr., 57, was supposed to be taking his wife to cancer treatment Monday morning. Then the call came in at 7 a.m. — his son De-Angelo was dead.

Smith Owens’ home proved to be “the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Collins, who also has six daughters.

Collins characterized his son’s death as the result of taking in a friend who’d been involved in a neighborhood fight, then becoming a victim of that conflict.

Collins said he is studying human services at the University of Phoenix, and hopes to work in youth homes when he’s done.

“I want to teach these kids some coping skills,” he said.

More than eight hours after the incident, nerves were still raw near the crime scene.

Just after 1 p.m. a man body-slammed another onto the ground and punched him. On the other side of the street, a woman broke across the police tape and a man soon followed. Within minutes, police pushed the crowd past the scene, and a sergeant threatened a mass arrest.

More than an hour later, police had to break up a fight between two women, one of them pregnant.

Floyd Owens, 52, described his nephew, Smith Owens, as a lover of cars. “He loved cars, and he would use his money to buy cars,” Owens said.

The two of them had just finished work on Owens’ Ford Mustang, which he planned to pass on to his nephew upon his death.

“Now I have to bury him,” he said.

Detroit News Staff Writer George Hunter contributed.