Murder of 4-year-old Detroit boy remains unsolved 2 years after someone opened fire on home

‘I want justice for my son’

Nathaniel Mesiah Roby-Townsend (WDIV)

DETROITNathaniel Mesiah Roby-Townsend was just four years old when police say two unknown individuals armed with rifles opened fire on his home, killing him.

The shooting happened at 12:50 a.m. May 21, 2020, in the 18600 block of Birwood Street in Detroit. Nathaniel was struck with a single round in the chest and died instantly, according to police.

Nathaniel’s grandmother, Pansy Glaster, told Local 4 in 2020 that Nathaniel had gotten up for a late-night snack and was walking toward the back of the house where the rest of the children were when shots were fired.

“We thought he had already made it to the back, but he never made it to the back with the rest of the kids,” Glaster said.

In 2020, police told Local 4 that a possible vehicle involved was a white GMC minivan.

“I just want to say: I want justice for my son,” Marlisha Roby, Nathaniel’s mother, said in 2020. “He was only 4 years old. He didn’t deserve none of this. He was too jolly. He didn’t get a chance to live his life.”

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the people responsible.

The case is being investigated as part of the Department of Justice’s Operation Legend.

If you have any information related to this homicide, contact the FBI’s Detroit Field Office at (313) 965-2323, or the FBI tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can also report information online at

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About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.