DETROIT – Detroit police Chief James Craig provided a step-by-step breakdown of what happened while four officers combed through a house looking for a man armed with a high-powered rifle. He said one officer was killed, another was injured and the gunman -- who clearly had tactical training -- was shot with a shotgun.
Two officers shot
Craig identified Rasheen McClain, 46, as the officer who was shot in the neck and killed. McClain was a 16-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department and worked in the 12th Precinct, the chief said.
Phillippe Batoum-Bisse is the officer who was shot in the leg, Craig said. Batoum-Bisse has been with the department for two and a half years and also served in the National Guard, according to officials. He is in temporary serious condition at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit and is expected to recover.
“This is certainly a heartbreaking day for the brave men and women of the Detroit Police Department,” Craig said. “Many officers came to the hospital in support of their fallen officer, so it was a dark day for the Detroit Police Department.”
“We’ve had far too many of these, and each one gets even more painful,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “It’s a reminder to us of what our officers are facing, particularly in these domestic violence situations, where emotions run so high and violence shows up suddenly and unpredictably.”
Duggan said McClain was clearly an officer everyone looked up to. He said Batoum-Bisse was in a lot of pain Wednesday night, but showed great courage.
McClain was married to his wife, Heidi, for 10 years and had two stepchildren, Craig said.
Police receive home invasion call
The incident began when police were called around 7 p.m. Wednesday to a home on Wyoming Avenue near Eight Mile Road on the city’s west side, officials said.
Partners McClain and Batoum-Bisse were the first pair to arrive at the scene, Craig said. When he arrived, there were four people from the home standing outside, and the gunman had locked himself inside, according to authorities.
“They advised that the suspect was inside of the home and armed with a long rifle or a gun,” Craig said.
Officers realized the home in question had been shot up two weeks prior, Craig said. The gunman in this case is believed to be the same person who fired shots in that instance.
Craig said the man had showed up to the home two weeks ago looking for his estranged girlfriend. One of her family members wouldn’t let him inside, so he responded by firing shots at the home, Craig said.
“He had some kind of dispute with a girlfriend,” Craig said. “He was looking for the girlfriend. The reason why he shot up the house two weeks prior was because a relative of the girlfriend would not let him inside.”
Officers waited for backup
Craig said McClain and Batoum-Bisse arrived at the scene less than eight minutes after the initial call. He said the officers made the decision to call for backup and a supervisor.
“The one thing that stood out to me, relative to Officer McClain: He was a leader,” Craig said. “Very tactical, very much about doing a great job. When he arrived at the scene, he was in charge. He understood he was in a very dangerous situation."
McClain didn’t try to make entry into the home until there were four officers at the scene, Craig said.
Once the other officers arrived, McClain acquired keys to the home from one of the occupants outside, police said. He unlocked the front door instead of kicking it in, perhaps to avoid provoking the gunman or to attempt a more stealthy entry, according to authorities.
“Officer McClain began to develop a plan,” Craig said. “The plan was once additional officers arrived, they would go in and clear the location, trying to locate this very dangerous suspect.”
Gunman had tactical position in basement
Craig said the officers searched the upper level first, clearing it before coming back to the main level.
Then, they cleared the main level, Craig said.
All four officers started to methodically make their way down into the basement, he said. The lights were off upstairs and on the main floor, but turned on in the basement, according to officials.
Craig said he believes the lights were left on in the basement so the gunman could see up the stairs for a clear shot at the officers.
“It may have been intentional by the suspect that the upper level and second level lights were out,” Craig said. “However, the lights in the basement, where he was concealed -- they were on. He had a plan, and it’s easier for him in the light to identify a target."
When police got about halfway down the staircase, which was a very enclosed space, the gunman came out from the left and quickly fired two shots, according to Craig.
“He was very target-specific,” Craig said. “He knew what he had planned to do.”
The first shot struck one officer and the second shot struck the a second officer, Craig said. It’s unclear whether McClain or Batoum-Bisse was struck first.
“There was no return fire at this point,” Craig said. “Again, there were two shots fired by the suspect, and both officers were hit.”
Craig said the way the man positioned himself in the basement and the manner in which he fired the shots made it clear he has received some type of tactical training.
After McClain and Batoum-Bisse were shot, the other two officers retreated back up the stairs to gain a tactical advantage, Craig said.
“By this time, the additional officers, who were in this ‘stack,’ as it’s referred to, retreated to gain cover and concealment,” Craig said.
Suspect shot during second volley of gunfire
After striking the first two officers, the gunman made a secondary move up the stairs, Craig said. He moved quickly, so McClain and Batoum-Bisse weren’t able to fire any shots at him, officials said.
The shooter ran up the stairs past the injured officers and exited the home through a door, Craig said.
Police said the other two officers who had retreated from the home were waiting outside. One was armed with a shotgun and the other was armed with his department-issued 40-caliber gun, according to Craig.
During the second gunfight, the suspect was struck by a shotgun shot, police said. He was hit in the arm, causing him to drop his weapon, officials said.
The other officer also fired shots with the 40-caliber, but it’s not believed that any of those shots struck the gunman, according to authorities.
The shotgun shot caused significant injury to the man’s arm, but he ran away after releasing the rifle, Craig said.
He got about a block away before being apprehended by police, Craig said. He was taken into custody and driven to a nearby hospital for treatment, police said.
He’s listed in temporary serious condition, Craig said.
“They got Officer McClain and Officer Batoum-Bisse into the ambulances and to the hospital,” Duggan said. “After two firefights, they also got the suspect into the ambulance and to the hospital. It’s the ultimate standard of professionalism that even in that environment, the suspect’s rights were protected. It just is a reminder to me that the city of Detroit is lucky to have the finest police force in America.”
“This is a stark reminder of what police officers in Detroit, Wayne County, and across this country face every minute of every day," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. “They sign up to do this. They run into danger to protect us. We must never forget this and should not need a horrible tragedy to remind us.”
The man’s assault weapon had an extended magazine and a folding stock, Craig said.
He showed a picture of the gun during his 1 p.m. Thursday news conference:
“It’s a very dangerous weapon,” Craig said. “Clearly this suspect was trained and skilled to use this type of weapon.”
Craig said no additional weapons were recovered.
Long criminal history
Craig said the 28-year-old man has a long criminal history, dating back to when he was 14 years old.
He was first arrested for a home invasion as a teenager, police said.
A series of violent crimes ultimately landed him in prison, where he served eight years, Craig said. He is on parole for weapons and assault with great bodily harm charges, Craig said.
“He was only given -- I want to say one to eight, one to 10 years,” Craig said. “He ended up serving eight years. We don’t know why yet, but we’re going to do a deeper dive into that background.”
The man wasn’t in the military, but police discovered he received some tactical training, Craig said. He didn’t go into specifics about the training.
Officials said the gunman never said a word while officers were inside the home. McClain was frequently announcing police presence inside the home and ordering the gunman to show his hands and come out, Craig said. The gunman never responded, according to authorities.
“It was very clear that the suspect was trying to bait the officers,” Craig said. “He had a presence of mind. Also what was clear: He wanted suicide by cop, just based on his actions.”
The gunman has not been arraigned, so Craig did not identify him.