Detroit — Police are looking for a gunman who was captured on video Saturday hanging out of a speeding car’s passenger-side window, leveling a pistol at a pursuing Detroit Police Department cruiser and firing eight shots.
During a press conference at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters Monday, Detroit Police Chief James White said the 4 a.m. incident on Detroit’s west side is an example of how drag racers and “drifters” are becoming more violent.
The chase on eastbound Davison near Dexter ended when one of the gunman’s bullets struck the squad car’s engine block, White said. Another bullet pinged off the squad car’s roof a few inches from the driver’s head, the chief said.
“We could be planning a funeral right now,” he said.
Investigators are looking for up to four people who were in the vehicle, White said. Police released photos of two of the people, who were called “persons of interest” in the case.
The incident started when a Detroit police drag racing detail spotted a man hanging out of the car’s window, Assistant Police Chief Charles Fitzgerald said.
“The officers didn’t know if they were going up to help someone who was about to fall out of the window or jump out,” Fitzgerald said.
A 1:03-long video released by police shows a man wearing a dark-colored hoodie with his right leg and torso hanging out of the passenger’s-side window of the car as it speeds eastbound on Davison Ave.
At the video’s 43-second mark, the man pulls out a pistol and fires eight shots at the officers.
“Directly above the (squad car) driver’s head, one of the bullets struck,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m talking 8-10 inches and this is a completely different gathering today.”
White said investigators believe the gunman’s vehicle may have been acting as a decoy to distract officers.
“What we’re starting to see is, they’re bringing in people to distract the police from the actual drag racing and drifting locations,” White said. “This guy (the gunman) just took it to the next level.”
Cmdr. Tiffany Stewart, commanding officer of the 10th Precinct, said: “These suspects decided they wanted to kill because the officers were infringing on their fun and social media likes. This is where we are today.
“The officers are doing OK,” Stewart said. “We will continue to do our jobs.”
White said officers will continue ticketing drag racers and drifters, and will attempt to seize their vehicles.
“Drag racing is going up across the country; it’s a new fad,” White said. “Every summer night I’m dealing with it at some point. And they are becoming increasingly more violent, and using social media to do it. These kids are doing this for likes.
“My goal is to keep our community safe,” White said. “This could have been you sitting at a light going home after work, and this person is hanging out of a window like a stunt driver and shooting at police officers.
“It was going to be a misdemeanor ticket; now (the gunman is) facing assault with intent to commit murder,” the chief said. “And if the passengers don’t come forward, they’re going to be charged as accessories.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Michigan at (800) SPEAK-UP, or visit Detroit Rewards TV on the city’s website.
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