'Pray for our city' after 4 slain in Detroit
Police are trying to determine what motivated a 27-year-old man to kill four people, including the mother of his child, in Detroit on Monday then flee to Ohio, where police engaged him in a high-speed chase before he fatally shot himself at a Toledo-area truck stop.
The bloodshed began with a triple homicide at 8:40 a.m. at a Sunoco gas station in the 2200 block of Fenkell on Detroit’s west side, when George Anthony Davis, 27, began arguing with the occupants of a silver Dodge Journey, said Detroit police Cmdr. Jacqueline Pritchett of the 8th Precinct.
“The (suspect) went over to the Dodge and he and a passenger engaged in conversation,” Pritchett said. “The suspect pulled out a handgun and began firing into the vehicle. Then he shoots the man who was pumping gas into the Dodge.”
Detroit police Chief James Craig added: “It appears he went back to his car, reloaded, and shot them again to make sure they were dead.”
Pritchett said investigators believe those victims included the mother of Davis’ child, a neighbor she was driving to work and a local church deacon, who was pumping the gas.
Pritchett said the suspect shot the three at the gas station, fled to a family member’s home on the 15100 block of Faust, where he then fatally shot his adult male cousin.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victims as Ja-Mon Thomas, 22, Raphael Hall, 60, Cierra Bargaineer, 24, and Kristin Thomas, 21.
Hall, a deacon at Citadel of Praise Church, was the father of Bargaineer, who was the mother of Davis' child, police said. A woman who answered the church phone Monday declined to comment.
Some users of the church’s Facebook page expressed their shock over losing Hall.
“Oh no. Every Sunday he would let me know how much i was loved and glad i was there. Deacon Hall was the friendliest, dedicated person, and will be greatly missed,” one woman wrote. “That side wall where we sit will not be the same. His family is in our prayers.”
Another user wrote: “Unbelievable!! My heart is sooooo heavy right now... Deacon Hall was truly A servant of God. He enjoyed his position as an usher as well. It was truly his calling. I always admired his tenacity to be included in the altar call... He always included his lovely wife. I know he's with our Lord Jesus Christ! Deacon Hall your big smile and warm welcome will definitely be missed.”
According to a post on the church’s Facebook page, Bargainer and Thomas also attended.
“Pray for our city and community,” read the post signed by Pastor Spencer T. Ellis. “There are no words that anyone can say to express how horrible and senseless this was.”
Craig said he was checking into whether Davis suffered from mental illness.
After Monday morning’s violence, police alerted the public to be on the lookout for Davis, who had carjacked a blue Nissan Altima. Davis headed south to Ohio, where local police began chasing him.
At 1:44 p.m., Toledo police tweeted: “Be advised, multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in a high speed pursuit with a murder suspect out of Detroit, MI. Be careful in the I-280/ I-75, east side area.”
At 1:52 p.m., Toledo police added: “The pursuit has ended outside of the City of Toledo. No threat to the public.”
Detroit police officials confirmed Davis shot himself in a truck stop and was transported to a hospital, where he died.
Davis, who was recently paroled and a new father, had been in contact with his mother, who told him to turn himself in, police said.
Davis, who had a tattoo on his left forearm bearing the message “Father forgive me,” had a 2008 conviction for second-degree home invasion, a 2008 conviction for carrying a concealed weapon, and a 2011 conviction for receiving and concealing a stolen car. He was paroled in 2016, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.
“His active sentence began in 2008,” MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz said in an email. “He was paroled in 2009 but did not do well on parole, and we returned him to prison in 2012. We then paroled him in 2016.”
Police are reviewing the gas station’s video security system footage.
Pritchett said the gas station does not participate in the city’s Project Green Light security program, in which businesses pay a monthly fee to have high-definition surveillance footage monitored by police in real time.
Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed to this report.