An off-duty Detroit police officer was wounded in a shootout and police say he killed a 21-year-old man who was trying to rob him outside of a liquor store Sunday night on Detroit's east side. A second man was arrested a man in connection to the attempted robbery, said Detroit Police Chief James Craig. But a third man is still on the loose. Craig said that man approached the suspect and touched him. Then he removed the man's gun, went over to where the victim was, and "it appeared he may have taken his gun as well," Craig said.
Craig described that person as a black, 5-foot-9 inches to 5-foot-11-inches tall. He drove a dark-colored sedan. In a Facebook Live video taken at the scene of the shooting, outside of the Motor City Liquor on Gratiot just west of Chene, Craig said the victim had just made a purchase and was leaving the store. As he came out, he was approached by the armed suspect. "The suspect ran toward the officer with his arm extended, holding a gun," Craig said. "The officer, fearing for his life, fired shots and killed the suspect." The officer was hit twice, once in the mid-torso, once in the foot. He underwent emergency surgery. The 27-year-old officer is assigned to the Seventh Precinct. He has been in the department for one year. He was not further identified by authorities. Craig said he "had no idea" whether the officer was targeted. Michael Woody, director of media relations for the Detroit Police Department, said there was no outward indication the victim was a police officer.
But Woody noted at minimum "there was a lookout and a gunman," which indicates there were plans to commit a robbery.
City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, whose district includes the liquor store where the shooting took place, called the incident "domestic terrorism" in a statement released Monday. Sheffield noted that the shooting was "the ninth incident in less than a year's time that a Detroit Police Department officer has been the victim of gun violence in Detroit."
The councilwoman urged anyone who knows what happened to speak up: "Someone knows what happened last night. Someone knows those who may have been with the suspect. Someone saw the suspect who stole the guns from the scene and what car they were driving. Now is the time to speak up and speak out as you would want others to do if you or a loved one was the victim of a crime. Now is the time we show our officers that the community truly supports the men and women in blue."
Craig described the footage taken from security cameras at the liquor store as "grainy," and noted that Motor City Liquor is not a Project Green Light location.
"(If it were), we'd have license plates and clear vehicle descriptions," Craig said. Willie Bell, chairman of the Detroit Police Commission, joined Craig at the press conference Monday, outside of Detroit Receiving Hospital, where the officer is still recovering.
The officer told Craig that he wants a police motorcycle. The department's motor unit handles traffic and provides protection when dignitaries come to town. Craig told the officer: "Recover, and we'll do everything we can to get you that motorcycle. But it's a rigorous amount of training." Efforts are underway to force Detroit businesses that are open after 10 p.m. to participate in Project Green Light. This means not only the installation of high-quality cameras, but the real-time monitoring of those cameras by the Real Time Crime Center at Detroit Police Department headquarters. The victim is a year into his career, which means he would have spent six months in the field by now, Craig said. "Our officers are coming out academy are well-trained, and act appropriately in crisis situations. He appropriately responded when faced with a threat to his life."
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