Detroit Free Press
One day after a viral video of more than a dozen people firing guns into the air just after midnight to ring in the New Year on Detroit’s west side, the city’s police chief had a message.
“If you want to shoot a gun off, do know we are going to hunt and track you down,” James Craig said near the end of his Friday afternoon briefing on last year’s crime statistics. “When you look at that video, it’s disturbing and an embarrassment to this city.”
The video, which was posted on social media and then broadcast by local news outlets, shows several people shooting guns into the night’s sky in the 9000-block of Warwick. The sounds of gunfire — like corn kernels popping — and shouting are clearly audible, as the shooters wander around through the snow.
The video, which was widely shared, showed a wild night, as muzzle flares light up the dark night.
Craig, who was flanked by several officers during his briefing at police headquarters, recapped the year’s crime numbers and touted Detroit police work. He said that the police department had continued a downward trend over four years in nearly every violent crime category.
Homicides, he said, fell by 7%, down to 273 last year from 295 in 2015. There also were reductions in robberies, non-fatal shootings, carjackings, stolen vehicles, property crimes — and overall, he said, there was a 17% decline in crime.
But, one thing that he wanted to address was the recent viral video of the celebratory shootings in Detroit, which, he said, easily give viewers the false impression that on New Year’s Eve “every neighborhood was erupting in gunfire.”
Despite that, he said, in 2018, there were 157 New Year gunfire calls. In 2019, there were 93.
And, the chief said, the police identified the 14 people that were recorded in the celebratory shooting video and will seek charges. Of the 14, he said, seven are on parole, and of those, two were wearing electronic tethers.
They are all members, Craig said, of a local street gang.
Craig, as if speaking directly to the parolees involved, said: “You think we’re playing around? We’ve identified all of you. So guess what? A belated Christmas gift you have coming. We’re going to violate your parole.”
In addition, he said, with a search warrant, detectives found a stolen Dodge charger and 250 shell casings.
“When you look at that video it’s extremely clear that there was random gunfire, crossfire situations,” he said, asking for the public’s help in reporting crimes. “I am shocked that no one sustained a significant injury from that activity.”
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