A video released by Detroit police in an effort to identify a suspect shows just how quickly gun violence – which is on the rise in the city – can unfold and why officials are concerned about it.
Local law enforcement is increasingly caught between protesters, who argue police have been too aggressive, and critics – including the president – who suggest police aren’t doing enough to counter social unrest.
The Tuesday evening shooting, at a BP gas station in the 24700 block of West 7 Mile, breaks out during an argument with two men. Three twentysomethings – 20, 24 and 26 – are in a silver Ford Fusion.
A man pulls out a gun and starts firing.
In the time it takes you to count to five, he’s gotten off several shots.
For more than a month, Detroit Police Chief James Craig has warned violence in the city is escalating, up 7% from the year before, as the pandemic has led to mounting tensions and criminals who feel emboldened.
“We’ve seen an uptick in violence,” he said Monday, after a weekend with 33 shooting incidents, which injured 26 people and killed 7. He blamed the pandemic and daily police brutality protests, which have forced him to take officers “off the street.”
Craig’s comments were prompted by a triple homicide at a Coney Island.
Mickey Dane Douglas, 25, of Detroit, was arrested and charged in the shooting deaths of
Detroiters Brian Jackson, 34; Carnell Watts, 24, and Courtney Willis, 20; and the nonfatal shooting of a 28-year-old Detroit man. At his arraignment Wednesday, Douglas was remanded to jail, and a probable cause hearing in 36th District Court was scheduled for Aug. 5.
“No dispute, fight, or feud is worth three dead bodies and another fighting for their life,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. “We must uplift the families of these victims and make sure that they receive the justice that they deserve.”
Gun violence isn’t just happening in Detroit, Craig said, it’s also happening in bigger and smaller cities.
In Dearborn, police said firearm offenses increased 130% in the past 6 weeks.
Fourteen people were shot on Tuesday near a Chicago funeral home and the mayor there, Lori Lightfoot, denounced the mass shooting on Twitter, adding: “When a person picks up a gun, we suffer as a city.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, President Donald Trump threatened to send federal officers into several American cities, including Detroit, over protests. He already sent them to Portland, Oregon.
Wednesday, Trump expanded his plans, vowing to deploy a “surge of federal law enforcement” to Chicago and other “American communities plagued by violent crime.” He also criticized local leaders for not policing enough.
Trump’s comments Monday about sending agents to deal with protesters were quickly rebuked by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state Attorney General Dana Nessel, as well as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and
Craig, who put out a joint statement.
“There could be no possible justification for such an action,” the mayor and chief said, adding that Detroit “did not have a single store looted or a single fire started during the protests.”
Meanwhile, gun sales are surging nationwide.
A recent Brookings Institution report found in the first six months of 2020, about 19 million firearms
were sold nationally, representing an average of more than one firearm for every 20 Americans.
“When Americans are concerned about their personal security, they buy firearms,” the report concluded, noting that since March there has been a pandemic, recession and violent protests nationwide. “The presence of so many guns complicates discussions of public policy.”
The Washington-based think-tank report also pointed out while protests are aimed at defunding the police and curbing systemic racism and injustices committed by law enforcement, an unintended consequence may be that even more firearms end up in the hands of private citizens.
Craig said Detroit police have been trying to reduce gun violence by confiscating guns. In the past week, he added, officers confiscated more than 110 guns.
And earlier this week, a Detroit police officer, who the Wayne County prosecutor said fired rubber b…