Cops: Armed man in clown, pumpkin mask robs hotels

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

An armed man wearing a clown or pumpkin mask struck two Livonia hotels early Thursday and fired shots at officers responding to the second scene, according to police.

The man first entered an Embassy Suites lobby around 7:10 a.m. at 19525 Victor Parkway, off Interstate 275 between Seven Mile and Eight Mile.

“He was wearing a clown mask and he had a handgun,” Capt. Robert Nenciarini said. “He held up one or two patrons and the desk clerk in the lobby.”

The suspect escaped with cash and at least one woman’s purse, Nenciarini said. No one was injured.

Aside from the clown mask, the suspect was wearing a black hoodie and gray sweatpants, Nenciarini said. It was not immediately clear if he was caught on hotel surveillance footage.

“We’re certainly looking into that,” Nenciarini said.

Hotel staff declined to comment Thursday morning.

Three hours later, the man struck again around 10:15 a.m. inside the Days Inn at 36655 Plymouth, according to police and a witness. That hotel is about five miles from the first crime scene.

“He was wearing an orange-colored mask, a pumpkin mask, and a black hoodie,” said Siddhartha Babburi, reached by phone at the hotel Thursday morning. “He was carrying a gun and a laptop bag.”

Police believe the same man hit both hotels.

“He was dressed the same as the (suspect at) the Embassy Suites,” Nenciarini said. “It sounds like the same guy, even though the mask description might be a bit off.”

Nenciarini said it is possible that witness recollections are different or that the suspect simply switched masks between crimes.

At the Days Inn, the suspect demanded money from the hotel register but fled when he heard the hotel’s manager approach, Babburi said.

“He went in a blue Chevrolet,” the witness said. Nenciarini confirmed police are looking for a suspect driving a vehicle matching that description. It has no license plate, he said.

The Days Inn hotel manager dialed 911 and police quickly responded.

“Our officers found him and began pursuing him,” Nenciarini said. “The chase went southbound on Merriman and somewhere in that stretch, he fired shots at our officers. From there, we ended up losing him in at Ford and the Southfield Freeway.”

No officers were injured when the suspect opened fire, Nenciarini said.

The robberies Thursday occurred as a wave of anti-clown hysteria has swept through Metro Detroit and the nation following countless reports of creepy clown sightings.

It was too early in the investigation to determine if Livonia’s incidents were connected to similar robberies Tuesday night in Brownstown Township and Ann Arbor, Nenciarini said.

“We’re going to be in touch (with the other communities) and compare notes to see if we think it’s all related,” he said.

In the earlier cases, an armed man in a clown mask robbed a Brownstown Township Walgreens outlet. About an hour later, a man in a clown mask robbed a BP gas station and Dominos Pizza store in Ann Arbor. Police believe Tuesday’s incidents were related.

Also Tuesday, Sterling Heights police investigated reports that people dressed up as clowns attacked a 7-year-old boy and scared two women.


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