DETROIT, MI – A gunman who fatally shot one Detroit officer and wounded another was trying “to bait” them as they searched a home for him, police Chief James Craig said Thursday.
The 28-year-old man waited at the bottom of basement stairs, fired two shots from an assault-type rifle and ran past the fallen officers, Craig told reporters. Other officers shot the man in the arm outside the home, and he was arrested in a backyard a block away, Craig said.
He said the man was looking for an estranged girlfriend at the west side home, which police also believe he shot at about two weeks ago. People inside the house fled and told officers a man was inside with a gun.
Craig said he watched police body camera footage of the Wednesday evening encounter.
“As they got halfway down the staircase, the suspect came out from the left, fired quickly, striking both officers,” he said.
Officer Rasheen McClain was shot in the neck. His partner, officer Phillippe Batoum-Bisse, was shot in the leg.
After McClain and Batoum-Bisse were shot, “two rear officers backed out to get a tactical advantage,” Craig said.
The suspect then ran up the stairs and past the two downed officers, Craig said. He was struck with a shotgun blast from one of the two backup officers outside the house.
He dropped the rifle and continued to run before being arrested, Craig said.
“He was very target-specific,” Craig said of the gunman. “He knew what he planned to do. It’s very clear he was trying to bait the officers.”
McLain, a 16-year veteran of the department, died at a hospital. Batoum-Bisse, who has been with the department about 2½ years, remained hospitalized Thursday.
Craig called McClain “a leader — very tactical, very much about doing a great job.”
On Wednesday, “quickly, officer McClain began to develop a plan — once additional officers arrived they would go in and clear the location. No surprise he was in charge, understood he was faced with a very difficult situation. He requested additional officers ... a supervisor,” he said.
After the officers entered the home, they searched the second and main floors first.
“All four, together, began to move in a slow and methodical way down into the basement,” Craig said. “The bodycam footage I looked at (showed) the suspect never said a word. McLain constantly said ‘Detroit police. We’re coming down.’”
Mayor Mike Duggan also praised McClain for his leadership.
“First one in the door, first one down the stairs to confront an armed suspect,” Duggan said. “His courage resulted in tragedy.”
The suspect, whose name was not released, also was hospitalized. Craig told a radio station earlier Thursday that the man was paroled this year after serving about eight years in prison on weapons charges. He told reporters later that the man was first arrested at 14 for home invasion. It wasn’t clear Thursday when he would be charged in Wednesday’s shooting.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office said Thursday that it had not yet received a warrant request from Detroit police.
Associated Press journalist Mike Householder contributed to this story.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the slain officer’s last name to McClain instead of McLain and the spelling of the wounded officer’s first name to Phillippe instead of Philippe.