State cops recount 3 hours in Detroit’s 9th Precinct

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit’s 9th precinct was its most violent last year, Mayor Mike Duggan says.

In the area bounded roughly by Eight Mile to the north, Interstate 94 to the south, Outer Drive to the west and Kelly to the east, there were some 150 shooting victims in 2015.

While those numbers are on pace to be halved this year, Duggan said, the precinct still faces challenges. On Sept. 12, the 9th precinct’s special operations team arrived at an east side bus stop to arrest Marquise Cromer, a 21-year-old man suspected of shooting his father and a Hamtramck man in separate incidents the night before. The man fled, hiding behind a Sunoco gas station at East Seven Mile and Hayes, and started shooting when he saw police come around the corner.

One of those shots landed, hitting Sgt. Kenneth Steil, 46, in his shoulder. Steil died that Saturday from his injuries, the 40th police officer killed in the line of duty in America this year.

On Monday night, in a three-hour span, the activities of Michigan State Police troopers who are part of the Secure Cities Partnership highlighted the challenges of fighting crime in a dangerous area, an area where state police are not the primary policing agency.

The Secure Cities Partnership is a Michigan State Police effort to provide an additional policing presence in cities affected by violent crime.

■ 8 p.m.: Troopers allegedly spot a man riding a Yamaha ATV 4-wheeler “recklessly” on Gratiot. They try to pull him over, but police say he flees. After a brief pursuit, he was arrested without incident for fleeing and eluding — along with “several local warrants.”

■ 8:30 p.m.: Troopers find a shooting victim lying in a driveway; he’d been shot in the head and the hip somewhere near Camden and Coplin, according to police. Troopers secured the scene and provided medical assistance, while Trooper Matt Unterbrink and his K9 partner, Bozy, looked for spent shell casings.

■ 8:45 p.m.: Fifteen minutes later, troopers spotted a motorcycle that had been reported stolen. Troopers said they followed from a distance, so as to not tip off the driver that they knew the vehicle was reported stolen. The rider pulled into a driveway and into a backyard, where troopers made the arrest and confirmed that the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Warren. The man was taken to the Detroit Detention Center, pending prosecutors’ review.

■ 9:45 p.m.: An hour later, troopers stopped a vehicle on Whittier over I-94 for a traffic offense. When it turned out that the driver didn’t have a license, two occupants were removed from the vehicle. During a search, police say they found a loaded 9 mm handgun in the glove box. Both the driver and passenger were arrested and taken to the Detroit Detention Center, pending charges.

■ 10:15 p.m.: Troopers provided medical assistance to a shooting victim on the 4100 block of Drexel, and secured the scene until Detroit police arrived and took over.

■ 10:45 p.m.: A vehicle fails to stop at a stop sign at Westphalia and Pinewood. Police attempted a traffic stop, but when the car stopped, a female got out of the passenger side. According to police, the car, which they learned was stolen, then pulled off at a high rate of speed.

The chase was on, and continued for several minutes, until the suspect drove into a gas station parking lot and fled on foot, police said. Trooper Unterbrink and K9 Bozy helped track the suspect as police established a perimeter.

Minutes later, Bozy found the suspect in a backyard in the area of Goulburn and Eastwood, and police made the arrest. The suspect? A 15-year-old male.

He’s at the Detroit Detention Center awaiting charges.

These patrols, said Lt. Mike Shaw of Michigan State Police, have been going on in the 9th Precinct since 2011. While Detroit police handle 911 calls, Shaw said state police use data to target their patrols in high-crime areas, efforts that have resulted in a double-digit drop in crime over the last five years.

But much more headway can be made, Shaw said.

“It’s still rough over there; we’re not going to (say otherwise),” Shaw said. “But we have certainly made a dent.”