$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Craig vows response to bloody holiday weekend

A camera is seen here in the windshield of a Detroit police car.

Detroit — Police Chief James Craig vowed to respond Tuesday after a wave of mostly gun-related violence left nine people dead over the Memorial Day weekend.

Eight people were fatally shot during the holiday weekend, while a ninth person died of blunt-force trauma.

Craig said he's mapping out a strategy to prevent such an outbreak from reoccurring.

"We've seen an overall decline in violent crime, but this weekend was clearly troubling," he said. "We are developing another strategy to combat this. If anybody wants to come downtown and create problems, we will respond."

Six of the eight shootings took place on the city's west side; two of the shootings and the blunt force trauma death happened on the east side. In only one of the nine deaths was a suspect immediately detained.

While there were more killings during the four-day period than most weekends in Detroit, it wasn't markedly higher than previous Memorial Day periods. During last year's four-day weekend from Friday to Memorial Day, there were six homicides; there were three during the 2016 holiday period, and seven in 2015.

By comparison, the Chicago Tribune reported that 39 people were shot over the long Memorial Day holiday there — seven fatally.

Although some studies have suggested warmer weather makes people more violent, higher temperatures don’t appear to have had a marked impact on homicides in Detroit last year. In 2017, the highest number of killings occurred in March, when there were 32. The second-highest number of homicides was in August, when there were 30.

Of the six warm-weather months last year, May through October, there were 152 homicides, which was 56 percent of the 267 total — not a dramatic difference from the colder months.

Homicides are still down year-over-year in Detroit. To this point in 2018, 98 people have been killed in Detroit, compared with 107 in 2017 and 116 in 2016, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, head of the public information office.

Still, the number of killings during the four-day 2018 Memorial Day period represent a huge jump over last weekend, when there were only two homicides from May 18 through May 21, according to online Detroit police crime data.

Just after midnight Tuesday, four people were hit in a shootout in Greektown, and three of them were left in critical condition.

 Craig said part of his strategy to address crime downtown will be to meet with business owners.

"There have been some businesses that have been troubled locations, and we'll sit down with them," he said. "Basically, we want to set a tone of not tolerating this kind of violent behavior."

Detroit police recently addressed crime near three "problem spots" downtown: The Bleu Club, the Annex and St. Brigids Bathtub Pub, all of which were sanctioned last month for various violations, including selling alcohol to minors and operating without a license. From January through April, police had been called 49 times to address problems at the three clubs.

Craig said he was satisfied with the number of officers deployed downtown during the holiday weekend.

"There was no problem with the staffing," he said. "It wasn't a matter of us not responding quickly to these incidents; in both cases, our officers were on the scene within seconds. I think we just need a more focused approach so that people who create problems will be addressed sooner instead of later."

The quadruple shooting in Greektown also comes after a string of high-profile violent incidents in the neighborhood last year, including an April 16, 2017, brawl that was captured on video and a triple shooting in June outside a parked party bus.

This weekend's violence started early Saturday morning, less than an hour after midnight when a 38-year-old woman was killed on the 5400 block of Seneca, which is south of Gratiot and east of Van Dyke. 

Saturday at 2:30 p.m., on the 1300 block of Ethel, a black male, believed to be in his mid-20s, was fatally shot in his head in a drive-by.

The victim was sitting in his gray Dodge Charger when a black vehicle pulled up alongside, and someone inside the vehicle fired multiple shots. The black vehicle was last seen headed south on Ethel toward Schaefer, said Dontae Freeman, a Detroit Police Department spokesman.

Saturday, just before 9 p.m. at El Capri Lounge on the 1600 block of East Grand Boulevard, police were called to the scene of a bar owner's death.

Surveillance video recovered from the bar shows a suspect enter the building, climb over the bar and toward the office, where the victim was found. The entry to the bar triggered its alarm, and the owner responded to that alarm.

By the time police reached the victim, he was dead. Authorities identified him as 60-year-old Michael Webb.

About 12:30 a.m. Sunday, a 38-year-old man was gunned down at a block party on the 2000 block of Dearing, which is south of East Davison and east of Dequindre.

The man had been at a party when shots were fired, hitting him multiple times. After being privately conveyed to an area hospital, the victim died.

Five more people were killed in separate shootings Monday.

At midnight, on the 9900 block of Freeland — south of Plymouth, west of Schaefer — a black male believed to be about 20 years old was found in the middle of the street, dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

At 8 a.m. on Memorial Day, an 18-year-old black male was shot in the head on the 15700 block of Mansfield, which is north of Fenkell and west of Greenfield. 

A witness in the area reported hearing shots fired and saw someone trying to flee the area before police arrived. 

When police arrived at the scene, they found the victim dead. An 18-year-old man was detained for questioning.

About 90 minutes later, on the 9600 block of the Southfield Freeway Service Drive just south of Interstate 96, a 30-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medics arrived, but the man died at the scene.

Monday at 4:10 p.m., in the area of Greenfield and Schoolcraft, a 30-year-old black male was driving a passenger in a Chevy SUV. The two then got into an altercation with someone inside an unknown vehicle who fired multiple shots, hitting the driver multiple times. 

The victim tried to drive away from the scene but had to stop on the 16000 block of Grand River. By the time medics arrived, the 30-year-old man was dead. 

The witness has refused to cooperate.

The last fatal shooting of the three-day weekend happened about 10 minutes before midnight, on the 15700 block of Carlisle, which is south of East Eight Mile and east of Gratiot on the city's east side.

The victim is a 32-year-old man who was shot multiple times while sitting on his couch.

Police believe that the suspect, described only as a black male wearing dark-colored clothes, a red hat, and carrying an assault rifle, shot through the home's front door, fatally striking the victim, who was declared dead at the scene.