'Too much gun violence in city,' Detroit chief says as officer fatally shot
Detroit — A Detroit officer and a suspect, who police said was "indiscriminately" firing shots, were killed Wednesday night on the city's west side, the police chief said, prompting him and other city leaders to decry rising gun violence.
Standing outside Sinai-Grace Hospital hours after what he called a "very sad and tragic event," Detroit police Chief James White angrily denounced the rising toll of gun violence in the city and nation after one of his officers was shot by a suspect using an assault rifle.
"The violence in this country is outrageous," he said. "The assaults against police officers is outrageous. And tonight we lost a hero in our department. And regardless of where you stand, on what side of the political aisle you’re on on this issue of gun violence, it's entirely too much gun violence in the city. Too much gun violence in this country.
"And now we've got an officer who has paid the ultimate sacrifice, putting his life on the line for you and me ... every single day. And officers are doing it right now even after this call. Enough is enough."
The officer, from the department's 2nd Precinct, was not identified Wednesday night. He was a five-year veteran who "comes from a long history of law enforcement officers," White said. The officer's father, the chief said, recently retired from the department.
The chief said the officer was a married father. He met with the officer's family at the hospital.
"Their soul is crushed," White said. "This is the worst day of their life. And Dad's not coming home, husband's not coming home. And it's unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable."
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who also met with the officer's family at the hospital, described him as a dedicated public servant.
“The senseless violence ravaging our country has hit far too close to home tonight. We owe a debt of gratitude to our fallen officer, a debt that we can never repay," Duggan said in a statement. "He gave his life to serve his city and keep his fellow Detroiters safe. Our entire city is holding his family in our hearts tonight and will be with them every step of the way in the difficult days ahead.”
Earlier, standing solemnly with White and others outside the hospital, Duggan said officers are called to serve amid the violence "... and it seems like there's nowhere in this country that you can be safe, but there's people who don't believe that … they’re police officers, and they have a calling.
"They believe that they can protect us. "And the Detroit police officers every day confront the most violent people in this community in order to protect the rest of us."
White released few details about the incident, which he said started with a 911 call around 7:30 p.m. about a suspect "who was firing shots indiscriminately" near Joy Road and Marlowe Street.
Officers from the 2nd Precinct responded within 2 minutes, the chief said.
When they arrived, the suspect opened fire with the assault rifle, he said.
"Sadly, the officer was struck and succumbed to his injuries," White said. "His partner was able to return fire and the suspect was fatally struck, as well."
White said he had no other details about the suspect.
"It's just a tragic event. We lost a hero today, and the department and the city is grieving," he said. "... The officers are heartbroken and they are constantly doing exactly what this community needs and what we want them to do, and that's put their lives on the line and work very hard for this city."
The shooting follows other fatalities involving a DPD officer. In November 2019, Officer Rasheen McClain was killed while investigating a home invasion on Detroit's west side. He led a team of officers into a house where a gunman armed with an SKS semi-automatic rifle hid. As the group descended the basement stairs, authorities say 28-year-old JuJuan Parks ambushed the officers, firing two shots.
One of the rounds struck McClain in the neck; he died hours later in Sinai-Grace Hospital.
Another officer, Waldis "Jay" Johnson, died in May 2020 from injuries related to the gunshot wound he sustained on April 30, 2017, when he and his partner responded to a domestic violence call at the Oakman Apartments on Detroit's west side.