2 shootings injure 3 during Detroit fireworks

By Jo Kroeker and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit — Two shootings that injured three people were reported Monday night during the Detroit fireworks show, police said -- marring what authorities called a "good time" during the annual display of pyrotechnics and goodwill.

A shooting was reported during the 59th annual Ford Fireworks downtown, according to police. 
Police said a woman was arguing with a group of youths when she was shot near Jefferson and Woodward. She was taken to Henry Ford Hospital.

A 47-year-old woman downtown for the show was shot at Woodward and Jefferson in the Spirit of Detroit esplanade, where people had gathered at the newly opened plaza to watch the fireworks, police said. Two people, including one adult, are in custody in that shooting and a weapon was recovered, police said.

The woman was taken to Henry Ford Hospital. Police said she was listed in serious condition late Monday.

She was with family members when the shooting occurred about 9:54 p.m., a minute before the fireworks began, police said. Police said she was "an innocent bystander."

"The fireworks is what we 'd call a success but we had a few knuckleheads out here that wanted to argue," said Detroit Police Assistant Chief Arnold Williams. "And having that argument caused a lot of people a lot of pain."

The shooting started "a small stampede," Williams said, as fireworks spectators rushed for safety after they heard shots. Additional officers in the Spirit of Detroit Plaza "were able to secure the scene" quickly, Williams said.

Fireworks bring old, young to Detroit River

Williams condemned the attack as something that “boggles his mind."

“This is a senseless act of stupidity and ignorance,” Williams said. “It’s unacceptable.”

A second shooting just blocks away occurred at Cass and Fort, where occupants in a Chevy Impala began arguing with as many as three people outside of the car. Those outside the vehicle fired shots inside, injuring one 17-year-old occupant in the stomach; another 17-year-old also inside the car was grazed by a bullet, said Detroit Police Cmdr. Elvin Barren. The driver of the Impala drove to Shelby and Lafayette, where they flagged down police officers for help.

The youth shot in the stomach, identified as a male, was hospitalized in serious condition. The other teen, a female, was listed as stable, Barren said.

Shawn Wakefield had been working at the nearby American Coney Island when he saw police gathering on Lafayette. He'd already heard about the earlier shooting and was disturbed that another happened so close.

"I thought it was going to be a peaceful night," he said while watching the officers. "It's crazy."

Detroit deployed 1,100 police officers to staff the fireworks. Other law enforcement agencies also were on the scene for the annual display.

The shootings came against a backdrop of the popular fireworks that draw thousands from the city and suburbs.

The shooting quickly became a topic on Twitter as people at the fireworks display weighed in.

"I'm at the detroit fireworks and a fight broke out and quickly led to a shooting, ridiculous," said one tweet.

One user tweeted: “Was 5 feet away from someone getting shot....this is why we can’t have nice things.”

Another wrote: “Somebody got shot at the fireworks, gotta love detroit.”

The night's gunfire followed several years of relative peace at the event that draws thousands to the riverfront.

Police did not make a single arrest related to the festival last year or in 2015.

In 2014, 158 juveniles were held for violating the curfew.

The year before, a thrown firecracker near Hart Plaza sparked rumors of a shooting. But gunfire was reported at the Martin Luther King Apartments less than a mile from downtown, striking a 19-year-old in the leg.