Shooting of 4-year-old highlights need for conflict resolution, Detroit police say

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police officials say a bloody 24 hours in Detroit that included the shooting of a 4-year-old boy highlights an ongoing problem: People resorting to violence to settle disputes.

An argument reportedly sparked the shooting of the 4-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man at about 7:30 p.m. Friday in the 9900 block of Whitcomb on the city's west side, Detroit police officer Holly Lance said.

"Our preliminary investigation shows the mom was going to spank the child, and the dad said, 'you're not going to whip my kid,'" Lance said. "The mom's boyfriend came over and started shooting."

An argument reportedly sparked the shooting of the 4-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man at about 7:30 p.m. Friday in the 9900 block of Whitcomb on the city's west side, Detroit police officer Holly Lance said.

The boy was listed in stable condition Saturday, while the adult victim was listed as critical, Lance said.

Lance said the shooting is an example of a problem discussed by chief James Craig hours earlier Friday, when he launched an anti-violence initiative called "Check Yourself, Stop the Violence."

"This little boy got put in the middle of an adult argument and got shot," Lance said. "This is an example of people not being able to resolve their conflicts without resorting to violence."

Craig said Saturday: "When you look at this 4-year-old boy being shot, and other recent cases, it's clear people aren't resolving their conflicts intelligently.

"We want to remind folks that it starts with all of us," the chief said. "If you've got a friend or companion who's losing it, check them. Too many times, violent crimes start with arguments that could have been resolved peacefully, if only someone had ramped it down."

Among the other violent incidents Friday and Saturday:

  • A 24-year-old man suffered multiple contusions to his face and head when he was knocked unconscious near Plainview and Warren on Detroit's west side at about 11:15 p.m. Friday. Police say according to preliminary information, the victim and his sister were walking down the street when a red Dodge pickup stopped and one of the two men inside asked if the woman was a prostitute. After the pedestrian told the men his sister was not a hooker, "the offenders exited the truck and began kicking, beating and stomping the victim," according to Detroit police press release.
  • A 54-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the chest at about 1 a.m. Saturday after an altercation in the 14500 block of Robson on the city's west side. "The victim had been consuming alcohol and refused to give any details surrounding the shooting," a police press release said. The victim's condition was not known Saturday, police said.
  • A man whose age was not listed was walking to his car, police said in a release, "when (two) suspects came up from behind him and stated, 'Run them pockets.'" The victim gave the men the keys to his dark-gray 2010 Cadillac SRX SUV, and the victims drove away.
  • A 38-year-old man was shot near East Seven Mile and Dequindre between 3:30 and 4 a.m. Saturday, police said in a release. "The victim was riding in the back passenger seat of a 2018 Kia Optima ... when several shots were fired, striking the victim," Detroit police said. "Other passengers in the vehicle did not see the shooter, and have no idea where shots came from." The driver drove to a nearby hospital for treatment and called police. His condition was not known.

Craig added that the shooting of a 40-year-old man Wednesday at a restaurant at Seven Mile and Greenfield was an example of violence sparking from what started as a minor argument.

"You had two 61-year-old twins walk into the Coney Island at about 2 in the morning, and ask for fried mushrooms," the chief said. "The employee said, 'we don't have that item,' so there was an argument.

"These two men didn't like the response, so they left, and within a short while, shot the place up," Craig said. "We got images of the suspects out to the media, and an off-duty officer who works a second job recognized them. She notified detectives, and within a few hours we arrested them.

"We're going to use social media to aggressively push this message of resolving arguments non-violently, and also attach real-world examples of minor disputes that erupted in violence," Craig said. "This is an education campaign, and we're going to keep pushing out this message. Maybe it'll cause someone to take a pause before pulling out a gun and shooting someone."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN