32 shootings in Detroit over Labor Day weekend

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Sunny weather, idle hands and holiday partying helped make for a bloody mix in Detroit over the Labor Day weekend, police said.

From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, there were 32 shootings in the city, four of which were fatal, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference Tuesday at police headquarters.

Craig said a combination of factors led to the violent crime spike: “People not working, people in a celebratory mood, consumption of drugs and alcohol, and the weather can sometimes be a contributing factor as well,” Craig said.

Among the incidents: The arrest of a naked man Sunday who allegedly shot two victims after an argument on the city’s west side. One of the men died.

But Craig pointed out that this Labor Day weekend was less deadly than last year’s holiday weekend.

“Last year, we had 10 fatal shootings and 28 nonfatal shootings,” he said. “We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in nonfatal shootings this year; there have been 100 fewer than last year. The only violent crime increase this year has been homicides.”

Year-to-date, there have been 207 homicides this year, up from 201 last year during the same time. Nonfatal shootings dropped from 761 last year to 662 this year; with carjackings down from 354 last year to 235 this year, Craig said.

“I’m not suggesting we’re waving a flag of success, but there’s been progress,” he said. “To a family member of a victim, it’s difficult to say things are getting better. One homicide is still too many. But we are moving in the right direction.”

Craig pointed out that in 2014 and 2015, the city recorded fewer than 300 criminal homicides since 1967. He credited the drop to stronger community relations, and specialized programs such as Operation CeaseFire, an initiative that’s helped cut violent crime on the city’s east side since its 2012 launch.

In addition to the 32 nonfatal shootings over the weekend, a 65-year-old man was shot in the knee as he sat in his car outside a pharmacy at Woodward and Peterboro, Sgt. Michael Woody said.

The incident happened about 6:20 a.m., Woody said.

“A man was approached by a young male who asked for a cigarette,” Woody said. When the man said he didn’t have a cigarette, the suspect then demanded money, according to Woody.

“He then pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the knee,” said Woody, adding the man is hospitalized recovering from his injury.

“There was absolutely no need for it,” Woody said. “In my mind, it was an attempt to further bully our citizens, and we’re not going to tolerate it.

“We want to reassure the public that we are investigating all of these cases.”

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN