Man charged with murder in ‘random’ Detroit shootings

Midwest

Detroit Police and investigators look over a shooting scene on Pennington Drive, north of Seven Mile Road, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Detroit. Four people were shot, with fatalities, by a person who appeared to be firing at people randomly over a roughly 2 1/2-hour period Sunday morning in Detroit, police said. (Jose Juarez/Special to Detroit News via AP)

(AP) — A 19-year-old man was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in a series of apparently random shootings over roughly two hours last weekend in Detroit that left three people dead and a fourth wounded.

Dontae Ramon Smith was expected to be arraigned later in the day in 36th District Court on the three murder counts as well as other charges, including assault and firearms charges, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office said. It wasn’t immediately known if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

“It is not an overstatement to say that on Sunday morning … this … defendant reigned real terror on the citizens of northwest Detroit,” prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement while announcing charges. “Normal, everyday life was brought to a standstill as he moved east to his next victim.”

Police spent 12 hours searching for the man and peacefully arrested him Sunday at his home following a tip from someone close to him. Police said a gun was found that matched shell casings at the shooting scenes.

Detroit Police Chief James White has said the man may have a mental illness and “terrorized our community.”

Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters Monday that the man also may have been emboldened after not encountering officers following the first shooting about 4:45 a.m. Sunday when a 28-year-old man was slain less than 2 miles from a police station. At that early hour, no calls were made to 911, Duggan said.

The prosecutor’s office said police found the man’s body in the doorway of a church.

About 30 minutes later someone called 911 after finding a woman shot about three blocks from the first shooting. She has not yet been identified.

Another woman, Lari Brisco, a 43-year-old single mother of five children, was waiting nearby for a city bus when she was shot multiple times. Both women died from their wounds.

Then, at about 7:10 a.m., 76-year-old John Palik was shot in the leg while walking his dog. The dog was shot in a paw. Both survived.

Wallace Pleasant told WXYZ-TV that an armed bystander saw the fourth shooting and fired his own weapon at the suspect who then fled.

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