Detroit shootings, homicides heat up with temperatures

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Temperatures — and tempers — have flared in recent weeks, with the city averaging about five shootings and one killing per day since the hotter-than-normal summer began June 21.

Through Thursday, there were 138 shootings, including 30 homicides, in Detroit during the 29 days since summer started. That compares with 94 shootings and 18 homicides during the same period last year, according to Detroit police statistics.

In many cases, quarrels sparked the carnage, police chief James Craig said

"Looking at the trend, we're seeing fewer gang-related shootings, and more shootings that started with arguments," Craig said. "We're also seeing more multiple shootings, with more than one victim."

Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said: "Of the 30 homicides, 14 started with arguments, because too many people don't know how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence."

On the first day of summer, the police department launched "Check Yourself, Stop the Violence," a social media campaign urging people to stop arguments before they escalate into bloodshed.

"What we've found was, too many of these shootings started with verbal arguments," Craig said.

The summer's first weekend was particularly bloody, with several shootings that included the June 21 wounding of a 4-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man. Police say the boy's dad was upset that the child's mother wanted to spank him. The mother's boyfriend allegedly shot the man and wounded the child. Neither injury was life-threatening, police said. No arrests were made

Craig said many of the recent shooting victims fall outside the normal age range.

"The typical age of both suspects and victims is 17-24, but with so many of these cases being argument-based, their ages run the full spectrum," he said.

Among other recent incidents:

  • Thursday: Police say a 27-year-old man was shot after he argued with another man in a parking lot in the 12200 block of Harper on Detroit's east side. The other man allegedly retrieved a shotgun, shot the victim, and fled. 
  • July 13-14: Two men were killed in separate incidents a few hours apart, while the body of a third person, believed to be male, was found decomposed behind a liquor store.
  • July 9:  Authorities say Daryl Michael Edwards shot his ex-girlfriend and a 39-year-old man and injured two children, after he had threatened her twice before, court records show. Edwards was charged with assault with intent to murder, home invasion, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and possessing a firearm during a felony.
  • July 6:  Demetris Nelson, 26, was charged with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to rob while armed and felony firearm possession, after prosecutors say he killed one man and wounded another. Prosecutors allege he shot his alleged victims because they are gay and used the Grindr social networking app to locate the men. 
  • June 28: Three men were shot while at a party at a home in the 19000 block on Yonka on the city's east side. The victims, two 27-year-old men and a 31-year-old man, told police someone drove by, possibly in a Dodge Charger, and opened fire.

Resident Cuban Williams said his east-side neighborhood has been quiet lately — but, he said, he avoids certain areas of Detroit that haven't been as peaceful.

"In my neck of the woods, it's been nice and safe," he said. "But I haven't been to the 'hood-hood' in a while. It's crazy in some of those neighborhoods."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN