Detroit man, 19, charged with shooting spree that left 3 dead, 1 injured across city

Kara Berg
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 19-year-old Detroit man has been charged in a shooting spree Sunday that left three people dead and one man seriously injured, prosecutors said. 

Charges against Dontae Smith include three counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and animal cruelty. 

The incidents initially were thought to be unrelated, but an investigation connected them to Smith, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. The victims appeared to be randomly targeted.

Dontae Smith

“It is not an overstatement to say that on Sunday morning, August 28, like a scene out of a movie, this alleged defendant reigned real terror on the citizens northwest Detroit," said  Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy in a statement. "Normal, everyday life was brought to a standstill as he moved east to his next victim. Thanks to a continuous collaboration of law enforcement agencies, these deaths and injuries will be aggressively prosecuted by this office."

Chayne Lee, 28, of Detroit, Lari Brisco, 43, of Detroit and a woman who remains unidentified were killed. 

How it unfolded: How Detroit police tracked shooting spree, nabbed 19-year-old suspect

Smith is alleged to have shot Lee multiple times, according to the release. He is alleged to have continued to shoot Lee after he fell to the ground. His body was found by Detroit police officers in the 19880 block of Wyoming Avenue in the doorway of a church. Police believe he was shot at about 4:45 a.m. Sunday.

Detroit police Cmdr. Michael McGinnis said Monday that Smith allegedly walked away, then returned to fire more shots. 

Police found the second victim, a woman who has not been identified, with multiple gunshot wounds at 5:23 a.m. Sunday in the area of Wyoming and Margareta avenues, about three blocks away from the first shooting, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

A resident heard shots fired and saw a slender man in dark clothing walking east on Margareta, according to the release. It was the first of the homicides reported to police. 

While police were investigating, a witness told them about Lee's body, police said.

Officers then heard another round of shots at about 6:50 a.m. coming from the 19700 block of Livernois Avenue, where they found Brisco's body. Smith is accused of shooting her multiple times and leaving the scene, according to prosecutors. 

Brisco was a single mother of five who was waiting for a bus when she was killed Sunday, according to the Associated Press. She was planning to move this week to a suburb closer to her job as a medical assistant at an allergy clinic.

Less than a half-hour later, at 7:08 a.m., Detroit police were called to a home on Pennington Drive for a shooting. They found a 76-year-old man who had been shot in the leg, according to the press release. He had been walking his dog, who was shot in the foot. Both survived. 

Police Chief James White said Sunday the 76-year-old had seen Smith looking into vehicles and told him to get away. Smith then allegedly shot him, White said. 

A relative gave police a tip about Smith, according to the release. Police executed a search warrant at a home in the 7300 block of Pembroke Avenue in Detroit, where Smith was arrested. A gun was found in the home. 

Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carin Goldfarb said during Smith's arraignment on Wednesday that officials had "considerable evidence" against Smith, including surveillance video and scientific evidence. 

Magistrate Jeffrey Kleparek said he believed Smith was a "danger to the community." He returned him to jail with no bond on the murder charges and set bond at $1 million on the attempted murder charge. 

White said Monday that law enforcement and community efforts helped potentially stave off more violence.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said thenthe victims were “innocent people going about their lives in a neighborhood on a Sunday morning” who were shot for no reason aside from being at “the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The neighborhood where the shootings took place was not outfitted with the city’s gun detection technology, ShotSpotter, which could have alerted police to the first shooting and possibly prevented subsequent violence, Duggan said.

kberg@detroitnews.com