The first fire happened early Saturday (May 7) morning. The Dearborn Fire Department was able to respond quickly and contain the fire with minimal damage to the business. The suspect got away.
On Sunday (May 8), officers were conducting surveillance at the supermarket in the early morning hours when they saw a suspect start another fire outside the building.
Video shows the suspect pouring combustible liquid along the side of the building before lighting it on fire and running away from the scene. The suspect got in a vehicle and fled with officers close behind.
“Somebody started a fire at Dearborn Fresh, I’m on scene,” an officer said over the radio. “There’s a lot of fire. I’m trying to catch up to the car.”
Video footage from a patrol car shows the officers pursuing the suspect through the streets of Dearborn. The driver swerved between lanes before he pulled into a parking lot, turned around, and crashed directly into the officer’s vehicle.
The suspect drove away, hopping a curb, with the officer close behind. The officer started to ram the back of the suspect’s car until he stopped and abandoned his vehicle. The suspect fled on foot and more officers arrived to give chase.
After a short pursuit, an officer tackles the suspect and immediately puts him in handcuffs.
“I would like to thank our night shift officers for doing an outstanding job identifying the suspect and taking him into custody,” Shahin said.
The suspect was arraigned in the 19th District Court on Tuesday (May 10). He has been charged with one count of arson, and one count of fleeing and eluding police.
Shahin said after extensive interviews with the suspect and his family they have no reason to believe a political or ideological motive was behind the fire.
Police to work with health department to address mental health
Shahin said the suspect has a “significant record of severe mental health challenges.” They confirmed this in their interactions with him and his family.
Dearborn police will be working with the Dearborn Department of Public Health to create a policy on how to respond when they are faced with someone struggling with mental health issues.
“While we understand the great fear these incidents can cause, it is critical that we also understand that unaddressed mental health crises can lead people to acts of violence. This is why we’ve enlisted the expertise of the dearborn department of public health to help us forge a policy response to mental health crises,” Shahin said.