Man killed in shootout after targeting Detroit officers at late-night crime scene, chief says

Chief James Craig says 27-year-old man was ‘preparing himself for battle’ before targeting officers

Detroit police said they chased and exchanged fire with a man who targeted them during an investigation.
Detroit police said they chased and exchanged fire with a man who targeted them during an investigation. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A man was shot and killed by Detroit police after he targeted officers as they investigated a scene where five people were shot, led police on a 100 mph chase and instigated multiple shootouts, according to the chief.

Detroit police Chief James Craig said this was a “very complex incident” and the he wanted to provide an update for the sake of transparency. Police are still very early in the investigation.

Officers investigating shooting, crash

Craig the incident began overnight while officers were investigating at two different scenes.

At 10:50 p.m. Sunday (April 18), officers were at a scene near West McNichols Road and Ward Avenue to investigate a report of five people being shot.

RELATED: Suspect shot, killed after firing at Detroit police during investigation of shooting, fatal crash

Craig said four men -- ages 36, 32, 29 and 18 -- and a 30-year-old woman were injured during a shooting.

Officers were also investigating a fatal crash nearby. Authorities believe suspects from the shooting struck another vehicle while fleeing the scene, and someone in that other vehicle was killed.

“We had officers investigating the non-fatal shooting incident, as well as investigators there conducting what we call a fatal crash investigation,” Craig said.

Driver targets officers

At 2:38 a.m., a 27-year-old driving a 2019 Yukon drove up to officers who were still investigating the shooting scene, Craig said. The streets were still blocked to preserve the crime scene.

Suspect killed after driving through crime scene, exchanging gunfire with police
Suspect killed after driving through crime scene, exchanging gunfire with police

The driver fired one single shot at an officer, and the shot struck the side of a police vehicle, according to authorities.

As he was leaving, the driver struck two parked police vehicles and sped off at a high speed, Craig said.

Police chase

Officers said they pursued the driver through multiple areas of the city, Craig said. The chase went through the west side, down Woodward Avenue and through downtown and the Campus Martius area.

The Yukon entered the freeway for a short time and exited onto Gratiot Avenue, Craig said.

At times during the chase, the driver reached speeds of over 100 mph, according to police estimations.

“Clearly this was a suspect that we had to apprehend,” Craig said. “Clearly he was focused on one thing and one thing only: to kill a police officer.”

Shootouts

During the pursuit, the Yukon was damaged, police said. The driver pulled into a parking lot, got out and started firing at officers, Craig said. Officers exchanged gunfire with the man for a short time, but it’s unknown if he was struck, according to authorities.

The man fled on foot and was pursued by police on the ground and in vehicles, the chief said. He was tracked down in less than a half of a mile, Craig said.

When the first officer arrived, the man pointed a gun at an officer, according to Craig. Police responded by exchanging gunfire, and the man hit the ground, authorities said.

Below, you can see images from both scenes where gunfire was exchanged. Police showed graphic videos of the incidents during Craig’s update.

A man suspected of targeting Detroit police officers as he flees from a vehicle. (WDIV)
A man fleeing from Detroit police officers after exchanging gunfire, the chief said. (WDIV)

More investigation details

After the man fell to the ground, officers quickly administered first aid and took him to a nearby hospital, Craig said. That’s where he died from his injuries, according to police.

A .40-caliber Smith & Wesson was recovered at the final shooting scene, officials said.

The weapon believed to have been used by a man who fired shots at Detroit police officers. (WDIV)

Craig said the man had lost his 21-year-old friend the previous day in a dice game shooting incident. He had also lost his 6-month-old cousin about a month ago, police said. He had very little criminal history but was distraught, Craig said.

“We’re trying to figure out what would be the motive in an unprovoked way to attack Detroit police officers for no apparent reason,” Craig said. “We’re still working through that.”

Officers found an open bottle of alcohol in the man’s car, according to Craig.

“We believe -- again, we may know as this investigation progresses -- that he laid in wait,” Craig said. “He waited. Again, he encountered our officers at 2:30 in the morning. We were at the scene doing our investigative work at around 10:30. So we believe he sat there. He may have been nearby, certainly consuming alcohol. His music was loud. It was as if he was preparing himself for battle.”

The chief said there’s been an increase in violence toward police officers in Detroit and around the country.

You can watch Craig’s full comments below.

Chief Craig discusses police-involved shooting of man who targeted officers during investigation
Chief Craig discusses police-involved shooting of man who targeted officers during investigation

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