Feds say life in prison 'sufficient' for Whitmer kidnap plotter

Man barricaded dies of 'self-inflicted' gunshot; hostages safe

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — About 30 hours into a standoff with Detroit police, the man who barricaded himself into his home died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. The two hostages he had initially taken had been released or escaped earlier.

It was about 7:05 a.m. when police approached the front porch of the man's home, on the 15300 block of Iliad. The suspect had stopped communicating. 

Then, "we heard a pop," said David LeValley, assistant chief of Detroit Police Department. His interview was published on the department's Facebook page.

Officers then deployed a flash bang to determine if the man was "sleeping, lying in wait, or had taken his own life," LeValley said.

"There was no movement," he said.

Court records identify the 38-year-old man as Thomas Curry.

Curry faced seven felony charges in a triple homicide in June, court records show. The warrant was issued Wednesday.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy had charged Curry with three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of felony firearm, and one counts of second-degree arson. 

"In our mind, he's definitely the right guy," LeValley said. "That's why the prosecutor's office issued the warrant yesterday."

But about 7:05 a.m., before that warrant could be served and an arrest made, the man shot himself.

On Wednesday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy dismissed the homicide case against Curry. 

Hours earlier, the hostage situation that developed a day prior was resolved when the second and final hostage escaped the home, police said.

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

Curry remained inside. Police said they worried about his mental state, his sobriety and a stockpile of guns he had shown off on social media.

"He made threats to (kill himself) throughout the 30 hours," LeValley said. One was posted on Facebook.

"Our preference would've been that he walked out of the door and surrendered" to arrest, LeValley said.

A Detroit officer blocks Fenkell on the northwest side of Detroit. Detroit police remain at the scene of a barricaded gunman.

Ordeal started with 'disregarded' red light

It all started about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday when a man in an older GMC pickup truck allegedly "disregarded" a red light at Telegraph and Fenkell, said Capt. Al DiPrima of the Redford Police Department.

Redford police tried to pull the truck over.

But he kept on driving, east on Fenkell, then north onto Iliad. When the man reached a home on the 15300 block of Iliad, he left the truck running and stepped onto the porch.

Police followed him on foot, until the man allegedly fired a single shot. It didn't hit anyone, but was enough to keep police from advancing. Then the man punched out a window, entered the home — his own home — and declared the man and woman inside as his hostages. 

The female hostage was released about 5 p.m. Tuesday, police said. The male was able to escape 13 hours later.

Richard Nelson Sr. identified his son, Richard Jr., 44, as the male hostage. 

"I'm happy, really happy, like anybody else would be," the father said Wednesday morning, after his son escaped the home.

Police said from the earliest hours of the standoff that they would be willing to "wait it out," so long as it ended peacefully.

In December, Detroit police negotiated with a barricaded man for three days before he gave up. When he did, he thanked the officers. Detroit Police Chief James Craig called it the best police work he had seen in a four-decade career. 

Homicide victims found in burned home 

Early on June 11, Detroit Fire Department personnel arrived on the 19100 block of Helen — off East Seven Mile, west of Van Dyke — to fight a house fire. After extinguishing the blaze, they found the bodies of three men,  burned so badly that their autopsy results are still pending three months later, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office.

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

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

Dawn Cormier, 42, Curry's cousin, said "it's always been rough for him."

Curry's family moved to the Jackson area when he was a teenager, she said. Kids there identified him as being from Detroit and treated him poorly. 

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, police and family say. He battled drug addiction and regular trouble with the law. 

"When he's on his meds, he's great," Cormier said. "It's not his childhood. It's not his upbringing. It's his own demons."

Suspect had history of guilty pleas

According to Wayne County Circuit Court records, Curry had a felony record dating back to 2003, when he was 20.

In March 2003, he pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury crash, which happened the month before. He was sentenced to six months at the Wayne County Jail, with credit for 36 days of time served before trial.

In April 2004, he pleaded guilty to a three-charge slate: unlawful driving away, concealing and receiving a stolen vehicle, and third-degree fleeing the police. He was sentenced to two years of probation.

Later that year, in August, he pleaded guilty to stealing and concealing a stolen vehicle, and was sentenced to five years of probation and nine months in Wayne County Jail.

In September 2005, charges of unlawful driving away and concealing and receiving a stolen vehicle were reduced to one charge, concealing and receiving, with a guilty plea. He was sentenced to two years more of probation, and six months more at Wayne County Jail.

He was charged with three felonies in a second 2005 case, but court records don't show that action was ever taken in the case beyond the initial warrant.

A year after the 2005 guilty plea, in September 2006, he faced three felonies: felony firearm, felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon. He pleaded guilty to felony firearm, had the other two charges dismissed in exchange, and was sentenced to two years in prison, with credit for 43 days in jail pre-trial.

In July 2009, another guilty plea, to felony firearm, was enough to dismiss charges of carrying a concealed weapon, cocaine possession under 25 grams, assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting and obstructing police, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

But in August he was sentenced to five years in prison, and assessed more than $1,100 in court fees.