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Suspect in shooting death of boy, 3, turns himself in

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A man wanted for questioning in the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy surrendered to authorities Thursday morning, police said.  

Police were searching for Demetrius Lorenzo Peels, 22, the boyfriend of the victim’s 20-year-old mother, following the Wednesday shooting that occurred around 7 p.m. Wednesday in an apartment complex in the 11000 block of Rossiter. The 3-year-old, police said, was shot in the face.

Peels is now in police custody, said Officer Dan Donakowski, a Detroit Police Department spokesman.

“It appears the shooting happened inside the apartment,” Donakowski said Wednesday. “There was a boyfriend and a 1-year-old baby also at the location when the shooting happened. We have the 1-year-old, but the boyfriend was not at the location when we arrived." .

After the shooting, the boy was rushed to St. John Hospital, and initially was listed in critical condition, Donakowski said. He later died.

As Detroit police evidence technicians responded to the shooting scene, other techs responded to reports of a dead body found on Morang, a few yards across the street from where the boy was shot. Donakowski said the two cases were not thought to be related.

Both incidents happened in the 9th precinct, which recently has seen a spike in violent crime that's prompted Chief James Craig to deploy a special response team.

Last week, a gang-related shooting in the precinct left one person dead and four wounded. Someone in a late-model Oldsmobile Alero opened fire in the 11000 block of Gunston, police said. One victim, identified only as male, was dead at the scene, while four others, including a female, were wounded.

As of Friday, Craig said there’s been a 24 percent increase in non-fatal shootings in the 9th precinct, in the northeast section of the city, so far this year over the same period in 2016. That represents 26 more shootings; there’s been a 24 percent reduction in homicides in the precinct, down nine from the same period last year.

Craig said he put the team in place to address the recent spike.

Police patrols in the 9th precinct were augmented by Michigan State Police under Gov. Rick Snyder’s Secure Cities initiative until September, when troopers pulled out of the precinct following an August incident in which a state trooper reportedly used his Taser on 15-year-old ATV driver Damon Grimes, who crashed into a flatbed and died.

Officials with the state police said they stopped patrolling the area because they didn’t want to rile residents who were upset about Grimes’ death, which still is under investigation.

Both Craig and Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw told The Detroit News last week that they don’t think the recent increase in violence in the 9th precinct is related to state police halting patrols there.