Chief: Suspect wanted to shoot more officers

Candice Williams, Holly Fournier, and James David Dickson
The Detroit News

A man who opened fire on two Detroit officers reloaded his .38-caliber revolver and "burrowed" nearby, waiting to unleash a second attack, according to Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

Raymond Durham, 60, was captured by law enforcement officers late Wednesday after allegedly shooting two Detroit police officers around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday near Ash and Tillman, south of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and west of Interstate 96.

Detroit police arrested Raymond Durham, suspected of shooting of two Detroit police officers March 15, 2017.

"This suspect was very violent. He was aggressively trying to kill our officers," Craig said at a Thursday press conference. "He continued to make an attempt to engage them as they were trying to gain some sort of concealment and cover."

Police later found the suspect huddled several blocks from the shooting site.

"He was laying down and he still was armed with the weapon, so he had no intent to discard the weapon," Craig said. "He was ready, in my judgment, to engage the officers a second time."

Detroit police officers were able to take Durham into custody without incident.

Detroit police were joined by officers from the Wayne State University police department, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the manhunt.

"He was still armed, and the weapon was still loaded" upon arrest, Craig said.

Craig said detectives are investigating whether Wednesday's incident is related to the Nov. 22 fatal shooting of Collin Rose, a Wayne State University police officer who was shot in the head by an unknown person while on duty on Lincoln near Selden. That site is about 1.5 miles from Wednesday's crime scene.

He opened his press conference Thursday by flatly denying reports that Durham confessed to the previous shooting.

The injured officers were taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where they were in stable condition Thursday, Craig said. The officers are partners in the 3rd precinct's special operations team. One is a 20-year veteran, the other a 4-year veteran, Craig said. Each has a wife and children.

One of the officers was shot in the neck, Craig said. The other was shot in the ankle; body armor stopped two rounds to that officer’s upper torso. Craig on Wednesday said he wasn’t sure of the extent of the officer’s neck wounds, but said “the early diagnosis is he’s going to be OK.”

Bruises left by bullets hitting one officer's vest indicate how close he came to a fatal injury.

"We could be having a different conversation today," Craig said.

Detroit police gather near Ash and Tillman to search for Raymond Durham, the suspect wanted in the shooting of two Detroit police officers.

"There was no confession," he said. "We don’t want to make connections to other cases that have not been made."

Investigators are testing the weapon recovered from Durham and examining other evidence in both cases, Craig said. The department has placed "an extreme rush" on the analysis, he added.

"There are some similar characteristics" between the cases, he said. "We’re certainly not ruling him out. But I’m not prepared to tell you he’s a suspect. He is not a suspect."

Wednesday's shooting occurred while the two officers patrolled the area as part of the Third Precinct's investigation into recent nonfatal shootings suspected to stem from narcotics activity, Craig said. There also has been a stepped-up police presence in the area since the Nov. 22 shooting of Rose.

They were wearing special operations uniforms, including khaki pants and shirts marked "Police," Craig said. They were driving a marked police car.

The officers approached the suspect Wednesday evening after spotting him "walking in the roadway, clearly agitated for some reason," Craig said. "We know that the suspect armed himself and fired several shots striking the officers, unprovoked."

The officers returned fire, wounding the suspect in the leg and arm, Craig said on Thursday. Durham was transported to Henry Ford Hospital and is expected to survive.

Durham was convicted of breaking and entering around 20 years ago, but has no violent crime on his record, Craig said. The chief declined to comment on the man's mental status or whether he is homeless, citing the ongoing investigation.

Detroit police and officers from the Wayne State University police department, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were part of the manhunt looking for Durham on Wednesday night.

Wednesday's shooting is at least the second act of violence directed at Detroit police officers since Sunday morning, when two officers making a traffic stop in southwest Detroit were hurt when a stolen vehicle in the stop pulled away.