Detroit police are facing a standoff Monday with a gunman, who is a suspect in previous fatal shootings, maybe high on crystal meth and warned officers he has taken hostages and will kill them.
“We’re dealing with a very dangerous person,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said from the scene, adding he appears to have a pistol, a shotgun, and possibly other weapons and may be suffering from a mental illness. “We’ll wait him out.”
Among the demands the gunman made, the chief said, is to see his ex-girlfriend, and she is refusing to meet him.
While Craig projected calm, saying the situation is in the hands of experienced officers and skilled hostage negotiators, some people connected to the community and those involved are worried.
Richard Nelson Sr., 66, of Detroit, said a friend called him and told him his 44-year-old son, Richard Nelson Jr., is one of the hostages, and he is concerned, but police are holding him – and everyone else – back from the area for his safety.
The senior Nelson, who wore a Scorpions Motorcycle Club ball cap, said he son also liked to ride and was a Scorpion.
Police did not disclose the names of the hostages.
Stacey Conley, 36, of Redford, said she is concerned that the father of her kids lives on that street – and doesn’t know if they are OK.
“I’m panicking because I just don’t know,” she said, her voice trembling. “I’m worried.”
Police said the incident on the city’s west side started at about 2:30 a.m., when a man drove off from a traffic stop by Redford police. He later fired at officers, broke into a home, and called 911 to report he had hostages.
The suspect told police “he wasn’t going to come out” and “he also was armed.”
Since the early morning, snipers and special operations officers have surrounded the house as police urged the man to surrender, and streets leading to the area have been closed off to keep the area clear of additional traffic.
“We want everybody to know we have this area locked down,” Capt. Kurt Worboys of the Detroit Police Department said from the scene. “But please avoid it at this time. We’ve made a public service announcement to the residents to stay indoors.”
Craig said the house is the 38-year-old gunman’s residence, and it’s unclear whether it really is a hostage situation, although the suspect has threatened to kill them – and himself – if police try to enter the house.
But Craig added the man and woman in the home who the suspect said were hostages could be associates of the gunman.
At one point, the chief said, when officers were on a call with the suspect, they could hear the man being held hostage saying he wasn’t leaving the house because he was having breakfast.
The chief said the suspect likely knows this is the last few moments of freedom he has left. He told them he took three lives in a conflict with a motorcycle gang, and that he has schizophrenia and is not taking his medication.
The man, Craig said, also seems to be taking narcotics – and maybe drinking.
Police said the confrontation started when Redford police tried to stop a black pickup truck in the early morning at Telegraph and Fenkell, but the driver took off. He headed east on Fenkell, then north on Iliad.
The driver stopped at a home on the 15300 block of Iliad, got out of the truck, left it running, fled onto a porch and tried to get in his house. Officers moved in to arrest him, but when pulled out a gun and fired one shot, they backed off.
No one was hit.
The suspect broke a window and entered the house.
Redford police asked the Detroit police for assistance, and more officers arrived.
Police said it appears there are two hostages in the house – a man and a woman – and the suspect has “an extensive criminal history,” and is known to the police department, which has had contact with him in the past.
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Worboys did not identify the suspect, said he has used weapons in the past, is know to be violent, and has made his requests k…