A 19-year-old man was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in a series of apparently random shootings over roughly two hours last weekend in Detroit that left three people dead and a fourth wounded.
Dontae Ramon Smith was arraigned later in the day in 36th District Court on the three murder counts as well as other counts, including assault and firearms charges. In ordering Smith held without bond, Magistrate Jeffrey Kleparek said he found him “to be a danger to the community” and had concerns about his mental health.
“It is not an overstatement to say that on Sunday morning … this … defendant reigned real terror on the citizens northwest Detroit,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement while announcing charges. “Normal, everyday life was brought to a standstill as he moved east to his next victim.”
Police spent 12 hours searching for the man and peacefully arrested him Sunday at his home following a tip from someone close to him. Police said a gun was found that matched shell casings at the shooting scenes.
Detroit Police Chief James White has said the man may have a mental illness and “terrorized our community.”
Mayor Mike Duggan has said that the man may have been emboldened after not encountering officers following the first shooting about 4:45 a.m. Sunday when a 28-year-old man was slain less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from a police station. At that early hour, no calls were made to 911, Duggan said.
The prosecutor’s office said police found the man’s body in the doorway of a church.
About 30 minutes later someone called 911 after finding a woman shot about three blocks from the first shooting. She has not yet been identified.
Another woman, Lari Brisco, a 43-year-old single mother of five children, was waiting nearby for a city bus when she was shot multiple times. Both women died.
Then, about 7:10 a.m., 76-year-old John Palik was shot in the leg while walking his dog. The dog was shot in a paw. Both survived.
Wallace Pleasant told WXYZ-TV that an armed bystander saw the fourth shooting and fired his own weapon at the suspect who then fled.
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.