Police investigate 12 Metro Detroit freeway shootings since June 15
Detroit — Road rage, a domestic disturbance and gang retaliation have sparked a flurry of shootings on Metro Detroit freeways in recent weeks, police said.
Since June 15, there have been 12 freeway shooting incidents in Metro Detroit, Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said.
"Eight of these were road rage incidents that started with traffic arguments," Shaw said. "Two appear to be domestic-related, and one was a gang hit. The other is still undetermined."
The latest shooting happened about 5 p.m. Monday when a male driver got into an argument with another male motorist in a construction zone on southbound Interstate 75 near Eight Mile.
After the initial argument, the two vehicles continued down the freeway side-by-side, state police said. The suspect, whom police did not describe, lowered his window and fired one shot. No injuries were reported.
Shaw said police have identified the suspect in that case, along with most of the other recent freeway shootings.
"We're close to solving quite a few of these," he said. "Let's put it this way: there's not a one of these cases where we're stumped."
Freeway shootings, particularly if they're random, can terrorize people more than other crimes, said Daniel Kennedy, a criminal justice adjunct professor at Oakland University.
"If the shootings are retaliatory, that doesn't scare people as much, because they figure if they're not part of the beef that's going on, they're safe," he said. "But if they're random, that's terrifying to people.
"You can avoid high-crime neighborhoods, but if you want to go almost anywhere, you have to take the freeway," Kennedy said. "If the average citizen thinks someone's out there randomly shooting people, you have more widespread fear. You can't take precautions against random shooters."
Shaw said the recent cases are not random but added that they're "all unrelated."
"There are a lot of things going on right now that may be contributing to this," he said. "Some of it is the anti-police mentality, where people thin they can get away with what they want. Some of it is sheer stupidity."
Other recent freeway shootings include:
- On Sunday, police say they pulled over a 22-year-old Hamtramck man who was driving erratically on westbound I-94 near Mt. Elliott. The man told police he had been shot. He was taken to the hospital with what police described as serious injuries.
- A motorist on July 2 reported that a white SUV with tinted windows was swerving in front of him on the northbound Southfield Freeway. The man said he heard a gunshot, and later found a bullet hole in his vehicle's window.
- Charlie Brown of Wixom is accused of shooting a man on July 1 while headed westbound on I-96 near the Southfield Freeway.
- A 37-year-old female passenger died on I-75 near Eight Mile on June 29. Police say an unknown driver pulled up next to the car she occupied and opened fire.
- On June 30, an off-duty Taylor police officer's vehicle was shot at on eastbound I-94 near Livernois. Taylor police chief John Blair said the officer was "shaken up," but otherwise uninjured.
The violence over the past month is the most recent example of freeway shootings that have plagued Metro Detroit over the years.
From February 1988 to January 1989, there were 17 shootings on area freeways. Most were not solved.
In October 2012, Raulie Casteel of Wixom shot at 23 vehicles on Interstate 96. He was convicted of terrorism and is serving 18-40 years in prison.
After three freeway shootings on Dec. 7, 2017, state police said they believed the incidents were the work of one gunman, although no arrests were made.
One freeway shooting that made headlines was the Jan. 24, 2019, killing of 3-year-old Christian Miller, who was shot while riding with his godmother on the Southfield Freeway. They were headed to see "Sesame Street Live" in Detroit.
Derrick Durham was charged with open murder. Police sources told The Detroit News he fired his gun because he was cut off in traffic.
Durham has a pretrial hearing scheduled July 24.
Shaw said it's tough to combat freeway shootings "because we can't be everywhere when someone makes a stupid decision behind the wheel."
"We're trying to be more visible out there, and tell people to let things go; someone disrespecting you is not a reason to fire a bullet at them."