Man charged in fatal foreclosure showdown in Detroit

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — A man was charged Monday in connection with Friday’s double homicide at a tax-foreclosed Rosedale Park home.

Alonzo D. Long Jr., 22, of Detroit was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of discharge in a building and one count of felony firearm in the fatal shootings of Howard Franklin, 72, and his daughter, Catherine J. Franklin, 37, both of Detroit. He was arraigned on the charges Monday in 36th District Court before Magistrate Charles W. Anderson III via video from the Detroit Detention Center.

Prosecutors said Long shot the victims during a gunfight around 7:30 p.m. Friday at a home owned by Howard Franklin on the 15100 block of Piedmont. He fled the scene and later was arrested by the Detroit Police Department.

A not-guilty plea was entered on Long’s behalf. His preliminary examination is Dec. 11.

Another man was arrested on unrelated charges for outstanding warrants, according to Officer Adam Madera.

Authorities allege Long and some other men were removing fixtures when they were confronted by Howard Franklin, who was trying to claim the home that had been owned by someone else since 2008.

Franklin and his daughter had a court order to evict the occupants after it was sold in October at a tax auction for nearly $36,000 in taxes and fees.

Long is the nephew of one of the occupants, according to Sgt. Michael Woody.

“The owner had purchased the home back in October and went to the home and saw the occupants there,” Woody said.

Franklin gave the occupants permission to remain at the home until they found another place to stay, or until the eviction process was completed.

“The eviction process was completed Friday,” said Woody.

It was not clear Monday whether the occupants previously owned the home, but police said it was “not a squatter issue.”

“They were not squatters,” Woody said. “It’s a landlord-tenant issue.”

The incident prompted concern about tensions since Wayne County this fall served foreclosure notices on a record 75,000 properties because of unpaid taxes. The majority, 62,000, are in Detroit and more than half are believed to be occupied.

Records indicate Howard L. Franklin bought the 800-square-foot house. Efforts to reach his family have been unsuccessful.

Records show the Piedmont house was purchased in 2008 for $25,000 by Willie Fletcher. He was delinquent $40,000 in taxes when Franklin bought it.

Woody said the incident began when a woman called police to ask for assistance evicting the occupants around 3 p.m. Friday. The home’s occupant — a man in his 50s — agreed and secured a moving vehicle and friends to help, Woody said.

A few hours later, the woman saw the movers taking fixtures from the home, and called police several times. Officers didn’t immediately respond due to other incidents with higher priorities, Woody said.

The woman and her father, armed, approached the house. Inside were the occupant, his son, a 26-year-old woman and Long, Woody said.

It’s unclear who fired first, Woody said, but rounds were exchanged before Catherine Franklin and her father were killed. The 26-year-old woman sustained non-life-threatening wounds.