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A day in the life

DPD's daily crime report shines a light on the city's violent side

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Winthrop Street, where a man died on a stranger's front lawn.


At least he could talk if he wanted to. The man found lying in the grass an hour later could not. His gunshot wound left him bleeding to death on someone's lawn on Winthrop near Greenfield and Eight Mile, in a still-solid neighborhood, with well-kept homes and few vacant houses. Someone heard the shots, saw a motionless man lying unresponsive, called the police at 5:15 a.m., and a 30-year-old man's life ended in total mystery. The brief signs off with the chorus of the crime reports: "Suspect: unknown and armed."

 

By 6:11 a.m. the sun had risen. But it was barely daylight yet when a 19-year-old was walking down Seven Mile near Cliff Street west of Van Dyke at 7 a.m., past a panorama of life in his neighborhood. Past the Pick and Save Supermarket, now closed for good. Past the Wilder Branch of the Detroit Public Library, now closed often due to shortened summer hours and ever-dwindling funds. Past Bellagio Beer and Wine, open much of the time. And past the Second Holy Temple C.O.G.I.C corner church, open for Sunday services in a few hours. He heard the snap of a gunshot, felt a sharp pain and found himself headed to the hospital and added to this year's growing tally of non-fatal shootings. "Suspect: unknown and armed," the report again says, almost as if with a sigh.

In the height of the heat, at about 2 p.m., a man about 25 years old walked into a chain auto parts store, pulled out a gun and robbed the 30-year-old man behind the counter not only of the store's receipts, but the low-wage counter employee's belongings as well. Here were two similar men in the same neighborhood, roughly the same age, both likely without much money, but split by a life-defining divide — one choosing to work for his money, the other choosing to steal from those who do.

Crime reports given out by the police generally refrain from naming a store that's been robbed, lest word get out that the place is an easy mark. So it's unclear if the man who asked to use the restroom at 5:30 p.m. at an unnamed store on Greenfield south of Fenkell was at the Super M Market, which also houses a Dollar Plus, or Golden Pizza 2, with its $2.99 three-piece whole wing special, but the man emerging from the bathroom returned the hospitality shown him by not only robbing the place at gunpoint, but also taking the friendly 50-year-old female employee's money and the keys to her 2006 Cadillac STS.

An hour later, on Seven Mile Road near John R, at an unnamed business in a location where the only retail business is a dollar store, a suspect pretended he wanted to buy something, then pulled out his gun and demanded the cash from a store that makes money a dollar or two at a time. The 23-year-old clerk complied. Four days later, another gunman with another description would enter the same store and rob another employee the exact same way. 

And yet again, as another young man stood on another city street, a car pulled up and fired at him. This time it was at 7:30 p.m, on St. Mary's Street just north of McNichols. The 18-year-old was hit and was taken to the hospital. To get a sense of what side of crazy this neighborhood is on, just days later a pit bull was found dead on the same street, the Michigan Humane Society announced, with a rope around its neck and gang graffiti spray-painted on its body. A reward was offered for information. On the dog, not the young man.

The night's crime tally wound down as a 34-year-old man stood outside on the city's southwest side, where Chopin Street dead-ends against the weedy I-94 service drive. A man he knew came up and settled a simmering argument with a point-blank gunshot that wounded but did not kill his friend. The gunman then darted back out to Michigan Avenue and vanished somewhere along the always-bustling main drag. This time, though, suspect known.

Finally, midnight rolled around, marking an end to the long day but also the beginning of another one that would bring its own round of shootings and robberies and assaults. By the end of the week, at least 48 people would be shot in the city, padding the city's ongoing reputation for hair-trigger violence. Five would die, including the two men killed separately that early Sunday morning, one dying as his wounded friends sat with him in a car, the other spending his last moments alone on someone's front lawn, both deaths reduced to crime briefs that end in the same, helpless way.

Suspect unknown, and armed.

 

Detroitblogger John is John Carlisle, who scours the Motor city for its stories. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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