Warren police officer saved by vest in shooting; suspected gunman dead

Gunfire erupts outside home on Paige when suspect leveled gun at officers

Author: Shawn Ley, Local 4 Reporter, @ShawnLeyLive, sley@wdiv.com
Published On: Aug 01 2012 03:34:08 AM EDT   Updated On: Aug 01 2012 10:45:49 PM EDT
Officer-Don-Viars
WARREN, Mich. -

Thirty-five year old Warren police veteran Donald Viars has been admitted into the hospital as a precaution to check for internal injuries after he was shot early Tuesday morning.

The bulletproof vest he was wearing caught the bullet and police say the vest saved his life.

We’re now learning about the wild circumstances that led police to rush to 7004 Paige in Warren around 1:45 this morning, where they were immediately fired upon by a 53-year-old gunman from Ecorse. 

Police Commissioner Jere Green tells Local 4 that two men who live at the house on Paige ordered up “female companionship” from the website www.backpage.com after they got home from a night of drinking.

A 21- year-old woman advertising “escort services” on the website came to the house.

After being at the house for more than an hour, police say the two men refused to pay the woman for her services.  She called or sent a text message to a partner of hers, the 53-year-old man.

That man, armed with an automatic handgun, kicked down the door and held a gun to one of the roommate's heads as he demanded payment for the adult entertainment services.

The gunman took $40 from the man and that man’s roommate retreated to a back room and made a panicked call to 911 for help.

When police got to the home, the 21-year-old escort ran.

Her partner then came out on the front steps and with officers walking up to the home, he opened fire on the officers, hitting officer Viars in the stomach.  The man also fired another shot at another Warren officer, but missed. 

Five Warren officers were there, and all five opened fire on the man, killing him. 

More than 60 shots were fired.

Warren cop shooting

 Police have yet to release the name of the 53-year-old, but they expect to do so soon.

Viars suffered a contusion to his stomach area and he was also bleeding. Still, Green says as Viars was falling to the ground after taking a direct hit to his vest, he was still able to reload his weapon and fire on the gunman to protect his fellow officers. 

The men who called the escort to the house were interviewed by police this morning and were released. They’re not expected to be charged for soliciting the woman for sex.  The escort was also tracked down. She too was released and not charged.

Viars, his wife and his parents are at the hospital as he recovers.

All five Warren officers that fired shots are on paid administrative leave as police investigate.