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Detroit police announce crackdown on illegal block parties after 27 people shot last week

The block on Detroit's east side where police say 21 people were shot and two killed early Sunday morning.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Public
The block on Detroit's east side where police say 21 people were shot and two killed early Sunday morning.

Detroit officials are encouraging residents to report illegal block parties after what Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday was a weekend of violence rarely seen in Detroit anymore.

Twenty-seven people were shot at six different illegal block parties over the holiday weekend, officials said. Three of them died. The shooting victims ranged from ages 17 to 27.

In a Monday news conference, Detroit Police Chief James White said the department will now respond to reports of large block parties as a priority one call — the same way it responds to violent 911 calls and life-threatening incidents.

Detroit police also plan to deploy more than 80 officers as part of neighborhood response efforts.

This announcement from police and city officials came a day after a mass shooting at a block party on the city’s east side where authorities said 21 people were shot during a gathering of over 300 people. White said both a 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman died during that shooting. There were 15 women and six men among those shot, according to police.

There were no suspects in custody, White said Monday morning.

He said more than 100 shell casings were found at the scene and 9 weapons were recovered, including one with a glock switch attachment that turned the gun into an automatic weapon.

Teferi Brent is a community organizer and minister in Detroit. He spoke at the Monday press conference.

“That is not a mass shooting. That is a warzone. Our babies should not be raised and forced to live in a warzone. Our elders should not be forced to live in war zones. This is beyond a mass shooting. You have multiple, multiple folks shooting,” he said.

As part of the plan to curb violence, city officials said organizers of illegal parties will be arrested and can face up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Mayor Duggan encouraged residents to report those parties.

“You know the difference between your neighbor's family getting a little loud and a lot of strangers showing up on your street, parking on the grass in the sidewalk, blocking your driveway, underage kids out in front, after curfew, loud noise in the neighborhood,” Duggan said.

White, the Detroit police chief, said since May the department has received over 500 calls stemming from block parties.

In the east side neighborhood where Sunday's mass shooting occurred, residents recalled hearing shots, followed by screaming and people running.

Carl, a man who asked that Michigan Public not use his full name, said he heard something that he initially thought were fireworks around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

"But then I hear somebody screaming," Carl said. "I heard gunshots.

"I mean, it kind of shook me, not going to lie. [It] just caught me by surprise, you know?"

On Monday afternoon, Arriana Burns and Kaila Smith were sitting in Wish Egan Park, which is adjacent to the block where the larger mass shooting happened. Both said they were disturbed and in shock over the incident, especially the fact that it happened at a block party.

Smith said it makes her worry about going to any kind of big, public event.

“No house parties, no block parties, no none of that," she said. "That makes you not want to do nothing. It’s not fun no more. It’s not fun. Closed spaces like that.”

“And now you’re looking around, the slightest little noise you hear, you looking, like … ” Smith continued.

“You wondering if you gotta run," Burns added.

Smith sighed. “Yeah," she said.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.