Man barricaded in Detroit home releases one hostage, police chief says

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — A man who barricaded himself in a home on Detroit's west side Tuesday with two hostages has released one person, according to the Detroit police chief.

The man ran into a home after allegedly firing a shot at Redford police officers. Police said he is a suspect in a triple homicide.

Detroit police Chief James Craig said the man, 38, belongs to an area motorcycle gang. Police believe one of the victims may have been a former or current member of the group. 

Craig said the man had two hostages, and one hostage, a woman, was released by Tuesday evening.

"He’s expressed a desire not only to attack police officers, but to take his own life, so we’re exerting extreme patience," Craig said. "He told us he suffers from schizophrenia, but he hasn’t taken his medication, and was under the influence of drugs.

"We consider him armed and dangerous, so for his safety and the safety of the community, we’re being extremely patient.”

Richard Nelson Sr. arrived at the scene Tuesday afternoon and identified himself as the father of one of the hostages, Richard Nelson Jr., 44.

Richard Nelson Sr. of Detroit briefly talks to the media about his son, Richard Nelson, Jr., who he said is one of two hostages on the NW side of Detroit. Both Nelsons are members of the Scorpions motorcycle club.

He said his son only met the suspect "about a week ago."

As for what his son was doing over there Tuesday morning, or the relationship of either man to the female hostage, Nelson said "I have no idea."

Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said the triple homicide took place on June 11 on the 19100 block of Helen. That's on Detroit's east side, at East Seven Mile west of Van Dyke.

The three men's bodies were found after the Detroit Fire Department extinguished what appeared to be a house fire. The victims were "burned beyond recognition," authorities said.

June:3 found dead in burned home on Detroit's east side

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said the victims' autopsy results are still pending.

Police K-9 handlers and others stage near the barricaded gunman incident on the NW side of Detroit near the Redford Twp. border. Detroit Police are on the scene of a barricaded gunman on the NW side of Detroit, who is reportedly holding two hostages, Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 15, 2020

The trouble Tuesday started with an attempted traffic stop near the Detroit-Redford border. 

That traffic stop was initiated about 2:30 a.m. near Telegraph and Fenkell, said Capt. Kurt Worboys of the Detroit Police Department, in an interview from the scene published on Facebook.

Capt. Al DiPrima of the Redford Township Police Department said an older-model GMC pickup truck "disregarded" a red light at Telegraph and Fenkell.

Police turned on lights and sirens and tried to pull over the truck as it traveled east on Fenkell, but the driver allegedly disregarded that too.

The driver then turned l onto Iliad, headed north. When he reached a home on the 15300 block of Iliad, he exited the truck, leaving it running, and ran onto the porch. 

Redford Township police approached him and he allegedly fired one shot.

No one was hit, but officers backed off. Then the man allegedly broke a window and entered the home.

Kirkwood said the man entered his own home.

Redford Township police "had no indication" of the man's alleged involvement in anything beyond running the light, DiPrima said.

Craig, in a press conference near the scene nearly eight hours after the barricaded situation was declared, said "we'll wait him out. We'll be patient."

Craig cited a three-day November 2019 barricaded gunman situation that Detroit police resolved without violence to show the lengths the department will go for a peaceful resolution.

That standoff actually took place a month later, in December 2019. Craig said the peaceful resolution represented some of the best police work he had ever seen.

Dec. 2019:Detroit police chief: Gunman in custody after three-day standoff

"We never rush," Craig said Tuesday. "We practice de-escalation."

There is a concern the suspect is "under the influence," Craig said, naming alcohol and methamphetamine as possibilities. The man also might be battling schizophrenia, Craig said, in addition to his possible legal troubles.

"He realizes he's potentially facing very serious charges," Craig said. "This might be his last time of freedom."

Inside the home when the suspect entered it were two adults, a man and a woman.

After the suspect allegedly took the hostages, Redford Township police then requested assistance from the Detroit Police Department, which sent personnel from the sixth and eighth precincts on the city's west side. 

A sergeant from the eighth precinct declared it a barricaded gunman situation.

Worboys advised people to avoid the neighborhood, and asks residents of the neighborhood to "stay indoors." Craig repeated that request later Tuesday.

"Nothing has changed," Craig said. 

Staff Writer George Hunter contributed