'It must stop': Four mass shootings in July draw attention to violence in Detroit

Detroit — Activists are pressing for answers and the release of body and dash cam footage after a Detroit officer fatally shot a man Thursday who police say fled before emerging from his vehicle with a gun.

Detroit Police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood declined Friday to disclose the name of the man and said more details on the incident would be forthcoming next week. 

Chief James Craig has said that the incident unfolded Thursday as police were investigating a potential "gang-related" shooting that wounded four teenagers during a Sunday block party.

Craig said the man fled in his vehicle with two other individuals, damaging multiple police cruisers and leading officers on a 10-minute chase, before crashing into a pole.

The suspect then exited his vehicle, along with his passengers and fled with a gun in his hand. He was shot once by an officer.

"All three suspects exited the vehicle very quickly, all started to run," Craig told reporters Thursday night. "One suspect got out, and as he was being approached he had a gun in his hand. The officer, fearing for his safety, fired one time, striking the suspect."

Police, Craig said, attempted to render aid to the suspect before he was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead. 

The suspect who died in the Thursday encounter was among the suspects being sought in the Sunday shooting that left two teens in "grave condition" and the others critical, Craig said. 

Craig has not released the name of the officer who shot the man, but said he is on restricted duty. An additional weapon was later found in the suspect's vehicle, he added.

Investigations of mass shootings have led to two fatal encounters in Detroit this July between police and suspects. 

The first fatal altercation this month between police investigating a mass shooting happened July 10 when an officer shot Hakim Littleton, who had fired shots at an officer investigating a July 5 mass shooting. The Detroit Police Department quickly released video of the shootout.

"We recognize there is too much violence, and we're doing everything we can to mitigate that. In doing so, our officers are going into harm's way," Craig said Thursday. "The violence must stop. It must stop."

Chris White, director of the Coalition Against Police Brutality, told The News in a statement that "the community is very interested in a timely release of the video since (Craig set precedent) by quickly releasing the Littleton video."

White added that "the double standard will expose our premise that nothing has changed for the better regarding transparency in Detroit's Police Department." 

Tristan Taylor, an organizer with the activist group Detroit Will Breathe, which has held daily demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism, turned up at the shooting scene late Thursday.

He called for police to immediately release video of the encounter as well as the name and history of the officer involved.

"We understand what the police say. We just want confirmation of whether or not that was the scene that played out," Taylor said, adding "we’ve had too many instances where what they said happened isn’t what actually happened."

The chief has said the department was reviewing dash camera and body camera footage.

None had been released as of Friday evening. Transparency, Craig stressed, is something people expect of him as chief.

Craig said the deceased suspect and one of the two other men arrested following the Thursday chase have been identified as suspects in the Sunday shooting. 

The man in custody was allegedly "involved in other shooting incidents," including one in Eastpointe, Craig added. 

Sunday's shooting took place around 6:30 p.m on the east side. The teens were sitting outside in an SUV on the block of 10600 block of Meuse, south of Morang, and just west of Cadieux. 

Janae Gordon, a spokeswoman for Detroit Police Department, said four men in a green Dodge Charger got out of the car and started firing shots at the SUV, wounding the four males, ages 15, 15, 17 and 18.

The mass shooting was one of two to take place in Detroit that day, police have said. 

Additionally, there have been at least two other shootings in July in which at least four people were killed or wounded.

The investigation that ended in the death of Littleton stemmed from a shooting in the early hours of July 5. At about 2:15 a.m., in the area of San Juan and McNichols, six people were shot at a "gathering," police said. Two men, ages 21 and 24, died. Two other men and two women, ranging in age from 20 to 30, were treated for non-fatal injuries.

It was during the investigation of that shooting that police encountered Littleton.

The first mass shooting of the month happened July 4, on the 8300 block of Homer. A family of five was shot around 12:55 a.m. in their vehicle.

Police say the white Dodge Durango was traveling on Homer and, as it slowed, three vehicles passed and someone in the vehicles fired shots. 

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A 39-year-old woman was killed, while male victims, ages 40, 15, 12, and 9, were treated for nonfatal injuries.

The most recent mass shooting, at around 11 p.m. Sunday at a coney shop on the west side, resulted in a quick arrest. Mickey Douglas, 25, suspected in the deaths of three men and critically injuring a fourth, is in jail as he faces 10 felony charges, including three counts of first-degree murder. 

Craig noted Thursday that the city has averaged between 80 to 100 illegal gun arrests in a week. 

"We're not backing off," he said. "It needs to stop."

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