Detroit police chief plans partnership to address violence on area freeways

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A rash of violence, including a shooting on I-75 that left a child dead, has pushed Detroit's interim police chief to seek a partnership with others to address the violence.

James White told reporters Friday that talks with area police chiefs are being planned for next week. 

Detroit Interim Police Chief James White speaks to reporters Friday, June 18, 2021, outside The Mix in Bricktown.

"I'm looking forward to working with them to see if there's something we can do to quell some of this violence that we’re seeing not only in these communities but on these freeways," he said.

The chief's remarks came a day after a shooting on Interstate 75 left a 2-year-old boy dead and a 9-year-old injured.

The incident "has just broken the hearts of all of us in the police department," White said Friday. "Many of the officers that responded are still at work. We’ve had to make some of them go home. We've got officers dedicated to assisting Michigan State Police in this investigation, and they’re not going to stop until we make an arrest. … We’re going to continue to do our work."

A community solidarity vigil is planned for Saturday night near McNichols and I-75, city officials said.

As police seek a suspect, they also implore residents to speak up and share tips.

"If you care, say something," White added. "Think about this 2-year-old who won't have an opportunity to do things that we’ve taken for granted … because somebody made a ridiculous decision to use a gun on an area freeway and shoot into a moving vehicle." 

The death preceded a second shooting that wounded two Thursday night on the Southfield Freeway, state police said, as well as a spate of other similar gunfire incidents on regional roads in recent months.

Meanwhile, a business in Detroit's Bricktown neighborhood where a man was stabbed last weekend must close due to an expired license, White said Friday.

The Mix, the scene of a stabbing early Sunday, June 13, 2021, has been shut down due to an expired license.

In a press conference outside The Mix in the 600 block of Beaubien, the chief said his officers had been investigating the spot, and "as part of the process, we took a look to see if their license was up to date. And in this instance, it was not."

White declined Friday to discuss more details about what police found in their probe.

John Roach, a spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, told The News in an email that according to the city's Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department, the business license expired in April 2020.

Police said a 31-year-old man was stabbed at 1:20 a.m. Sunday during a fight between a group of people inside the establishment. Security guards dispersed the fight, found the wounded victim and summoned police, who rendered aid and transported the man to a hospital.

The incident followed social media recordings that showed officers attempting to quell fights and make arrests in an area blocks away.

On Friday, White stressed that his department remains committed to tackling a five-point plan that aims to address issues in city neighborhoods and parks that spark violence.

"We're going to aggressively go after those people who come to our city, violate the law, carry illegal weapons, assault our officers, assault each other," he said.