ͷ

$250K earmark in Michigan budget tied to Detroit businesswoman shrouded in secrecy

Detroit creates police units for illegal parties that led to 27 shooting victims in 3 days

Portrait of George Hunter George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — More than 80 Detroit police officers will be deployed on weekends to new units called "Neighborhood Response Teams" that will focus on quelling violence at illegal block parties, city and police officials said Monday in the aftermath of a shooting that involved 21 victims.

The announcement came a day after a shooting at a block party on Detroit's east side Sunday resulted in the most victims of a single mass shooting in Michigan history. At about 2:30 a.m., multiple combatants opened fire during the gathering of about 300 people on Rossini Street near Gratiot, killing a 20-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man, while wounding 19 others, Detroit Police Chief James White said at a press conference Monday.

More than 100 shell casings were recovered from the crime scene, White said, along with nine guns. Among the weapons used was a firearm with a "Glock switch" attachment that turns pistols into fully automatic weapons, the chief said.

Update:No suspects in Detroit's mass shooting. Officials tightlipped on other details

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said during a press briefing Monday that six illegal block parties resulted in 27 shooting victims during the first week of July in Detroit.

From July 4-7, there were 27 people shot, three fatally, at six illegal block parties in Detroit, White said.

In response to the violence, Mayor Mike Duggan said he and White have devised a plan to target the organizers of large, illegal parties by enforcing city code violations that carry up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, or by seeking warrants from Wayne County prosecutors when possible.

"We're not going to have residents become hostages," the mayor said.

While gunplay at block parties — particularly during the Fourth of July celebrations — has long been a problem for Detroit Police, Duggan said there has been a recent spate of organized "pop-up" events that are covertly shared on social media, and draw hundreds of revelers from outside the city.

"This is a form of activity we haven't seen before," the mayor said, noting that 11 of the 27 people shot from July 4-7 did not live in Detroit. A graphic was displayed during Monday's press briefing showing that 10 of Sunday's 21 shooting victims were from Metro Detroit suburbs.

"This is not your neighbor's party," Duggan said. "These are events that are looking to attract people from miles away ... in the past two years, we've seen streets shut down, with people from all over Michigan and elsewhere showing up and blocking driveways."

More:Biggest mass shootings in Michigan's history and where Detroit's Sunday tragedy ranks

Of Sunday's 19 wounded, a 17-year-old woman is in critical condition, according to the Detroit Police Department. The rest, who range in age from 16 to 27 years old, are either in stable or temporarily serious condition, though a 21-year-old woman was listed without any condition.

Eleven of the shooting victims are from Detroit, but 10 are from surrounding suburbs, according to police officials. Seven are from Macomb County — two from Warren, two from Clinton Township, two from Eastpointe and one from St. Clair Shores.

Two victims are from Oakland County, with one each from Oak Park and Southfield. And one victim is from Taylor in Wayne County.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Victim Services is offering aid for individuals wounded or affected by Sunday's crime. The department's Michigan’s Crime Victim Compensation program helps to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost earnings, funeral bills or other expenses for people harmed directly by a crime.

People can contact the program at (877) 251-7373 or visit at michigan.gov for more information.

Parties become priority runs

Duggan said other Detroit police units that were recently created to focus on drag racing, and patrolling parks and downtown, helped spur a dip in crime last year, and he said he's confident the new plan will be similarly successful.

In addition to the Neighborhood Response Teams that will be deployed citywide starting Thursday, Detroit police officers will respond to 911 calls about illegal block parties as Priority 1 runs that are slated for immediate attention, White said.

Police will issue citations to lawbreakers for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, although White said officers will first give warnings to property owners before writing tickets. Disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are both misdemeanor crimes punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine, according to Michigan law.

Detroit activist Teferi Brent said until the root causes of violence are addressed, violence at block parties will continue.

Community leader and activist Teferi Brent gets emotional while speaking at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters on Monday. Officials announced details of a strategy to address the recent spike in violence at neighborhood block parties.

"You cannot arrest your way out of this," Brent said during Monday's press conference that was attended by dozens of people, including Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and City Council President Mary Sheffield.

"Until we address substance abuse ... fatherlessness ... functional illiteracy ... (and) poverty, we'll be back here over and over and over and over again," Brent said. "We need conflict resolution to be embedded in school curriculums; (and) anger management, and critical thinking.

"We should not be here talking about 21 folks being shot," Brent said. "That's not a mass shooting. That's a war zone."

Legal block party rules

Block parties are legal in Detroit, but organizers must get 75% of the neighbors to sign off on the event and get city approval, White said. The chief and Duggan said the new enforcement effort isn't aimed at stopping legal celebrations, but will target gatherings that are held without going through the proper channels.

Last summer, White announced the police department was cracking down on illegal block parties, and he reminded residents they have to apply to the city and get gatherings approved by the police department and city officials. The police department posted a public service announcement about the block party application process on .

White said Monday that initiative "had no teeth to it."

Sunday's incident was one of 10 shootings in Detroit that night, continuing a trend of violent Fourth of July weekends in Detroit. Last year, three females were wounded on July 4 after being shot at a block party at Holmur and Chalfonte on Detroit's east side. On July 4, 2004, three people were shot during a block party in a dispute over a piece of chicken. There were multiple holiday shootings between the two incidents.

Violent Fourth of July celebrations aren't confined to Detroit. A during the extended weekend, with 11 fatalities in Chicago.

The 21 victims in Sunday's incident represent the most people to be shot during one crime in Michigan history, according to a review of The Detroit News' archives, a going back to 1982 and the that stretches back to 2014.

Before Sunday's violence, the most shooting victims during one crime were the 11 who were shot, four fatally during the Nov. 30, 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

@GeorgeHunter_DN

Associated Press contributed.