Detroit man, 19, is charged with three counts of murder for string of random shootings

Suspect ‘reigned real terror on the citizens of northwest Detroit,’ prosecutor says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 31 August 2022 19:07 BST
Related video: Detroit police provide timeline of ‘random’ shooting spree

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A 19-year-old man has been charged with murder following a string of seemingly random shootings that took place over the course of around two hours in Detriot, Michigan, leaving three dead and one wounded.

Dontae Ramon Smith is facing three counts of first-degree murder following the Sunday rampage, along with a number of additional charges including assault and a firearms violation, according to the Wayne County prosecutor’s office.

It remained unclear on Wednesday if he had retained an attorney.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges, saying that “it is not an overstatement to say that on Sunday morning this defendant reigned real terror on the citizens of northwest Detroit”.

“Normal, everyday life was brought to a standstill as he moved east to his next victim,” she added.

After a 12-hour manhunt, Mr Smith was arrested without incident at his home later on Sunday following a tip to police from an individual close to the suspect, according to the Associated Press.

Police said they found a firearm matching the shell casings discovered at the scenes of the shootings.

Detroit Police Chief James White said Mr Smith could have mental health problems and that he “terrorized our community”.

Detroit Police and investigators look over a homicide scene on Wyoming Avenue, near the corner of Seven Mile Road, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Detroit
Detroit Police and investigators look over a homicide scene on Wyoming Avenue, near the corner of Seven Mile Road, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Detroit (AP)
Detroit Police and investigators look over a shooting scene on Pennington Drive, north of Seven Mile Road, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Detroit
Detroit Police and investigators look over a shooting scene on Pennington Drive, north of Seven Mile Road, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Detroit (AP)

Speaking to the press on Monday, Mayor Mike Duggan said that the alleged shooter could have been encouraged to continue following the initial shooting at 4.45am on Sunday, after which he didn’t encounter police. A 28-year-old man, Jesse James Hawkins, was killed less than two miles (3.2km) from a police station.

Mr Duggan said no calls were made to 911 concerning the early morning shooting.

The office of the prosecutor said the man’s body was discovered at a church entrance.

Around half an hour later, a 911 call was made after a still unidentified woman was found shot around three blocks away from the scene of the shooting of Mr Hawkins. The woman died from her wounds.

A single mother of five children, Lari Brisco, 43, was shot several times while she was waiting for a bus in the area. She also succumbed to her injuries.

At about 7.10am that same morning, John Palik, 76, was walking his dog. He was shot in the leg and his dog was shot in the paw but both of them survived the ordeal.

Witnesses told WXYZ that the suspect fled the scene after an armed bystander fired upon him.

“He scattered like a jack rabbit,” witness Wallace Pleasant told the local station.

The unidentified armed bystander told WXYZ that the suspect “saw my weapon and he went from predator to prey”.

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