DETROIT (AP) — A 19-year-old man suspected of randomly killing three people on Detroit streets over roughly two hours may have been emboldened when he didn’t encounter police after the first shooting, the mayor said Monday.
The victims included a single mother of five children who was waiting for a bus Sunday. Lari Brisco was planning to move this week to a suburb closer to her job as a medical assistant at an allergy clinic.
“You never expect gun violence to hit close to home. You always hear about shootings, but it’s never someone you know until it is,” said her boss, Dr. Kathleen Dass.
Police still were sorting out details while a suspect who Chief James White said may have a mental illness remained in custody. The man was peacefully arrested at home after a 12-hour search Sunday, following a tip from someone close to him.
He “terrorized our community,” White said.
Mayor Mike Duggan said no one called 911 when the first victim, a 28-year-old man, was shot before dawn, less than two miles from a police station.
“At 4:45 on a Sunday morning, not a lot of people are up. Some people might have thought they were hearing firecrackers,” Duggan said. “I think there’s a strong probability he expected to get caught. … And then 35 minutes later he shoots and kills a second individual and proceeds from there.”
The first incident occurred at 4:45 a.m. The suspect shot a man without provocation, walked away and then returned to fire more shots, White said.
About 30 minutes later and three blocks away, police got their first 911 call for a woman in her 40s shot on a sidewalk. Brisco, 43, was the third victim, shot multiple times while waiting for a bus a short distance away.
Dass said her clinic had planned to give Brisco a cake to celebrate her move to a new home.
“My patients loved her because she treated them all like they were her family,” the doctor said.
A fourth shooting occurred at 7:10 a.m. while an 80-year-old man was walking his dog, said Michael McGinnis, major crimes commander. He survived.
A gun found by police matched the bullet casings at the shooting scenes, McGinnis said.
Bishop Daryl Harris of Total Life Christian Ministries said he could “feel the panic” in his congregation when he informed people that an active shooter was at large Sunday.
“Many of our members were distraught as they ran out of the sanctuary to try to call their loved ones and families,” he said.
Duggan described the victims as “innocent people going about their lives on a Sunday morning.”
He lamented that Detroit has limited use of ShotSpotter, a gunshot-detection technology. It’s used in some precincts but not in the area where the shootings occurred. The City Council in June postponed a vote on expansion.
“Every single detective who came to the command center said the same thing: If we had had ShotSpotter, there was an excellent chance we would have arrested him by five in the morning,” the mayor said.
Cappelletti reported from Lansing.