Detroit, MI – A gunman ambushed Detroit police early Monday morning as they were investigating an unrelated mass shooting that left five people wounded.
A sixth person was killed when the fleeing suspect crashed into his vehicle, according to police.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the chain of events leading to the attack began at approximately 10:50 p.m. on April 18, when the Detroit Police Department (DPD) received a report that five people had been shot near the intersection of Ward Avenue and West McNichols Road, WDIV reported.
They arrived to find a 30-year-old woman and four men, ages 18, 29, 32, and 36, suffering from gunshot wounds.
At the same time, another group of DPD officers was investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash that occurred near the scene of the shooting, WDIV reported.
Investigators said they believe the gunman crashed into another vehicle while fleeing the scene, killing one of the occupants inside the other car, Chief Craig said.
As police were continuing their investigation into the mass shooting at approximately 2:38 a.m. on April 19, a man in a 2019 GMC Yukon drove up to them at fired three rounds at them, MLive reported.
The bullets hit the sides of their police vehicles, Chief Craig said.
Investigators later said the gunman was using a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, at that it appeared he had been waiting for police and drinking alcohol prior to opening fire, MLive reported.
“It was as if he was preparing himself for battle,” Chief Craig told reporters.
The shooter slammed into two parked patrol cars before fleeing the scene at a high rate of speed, WDIV reported.
“Clearly, this was a suspect that we had to apprehend,” the chief said, according to MLive “Clearly, he was focused on one thing and one thing only: To kill a police officer.”
The gunman led the DPD on a chase throughout the city at speeds topping 100 miles per hour, MLive reported.
He ended up pulling into a parking lot in the area of Mohican and East Eight Mile Road, then jumped out of the damaged SUV and opened fire on the officers, Chief Craig said.
Police returned fire, but were unsure whether or not the suspect was hit during the exchange, MLive reported.
He took off on foot a moment later as the officers pursued him both on foot and in vehicles, Chief Craig told reporters.
Police caught up to him within a half mile, at which point the gunman allegedly pointed his gun at them yet again, MLive reported.
Multiple officers fired at him.
The suspect collapsed to the ground and police quickly swooped in to render first aid, according to MLive.
The gunman was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No officers were injured during the encounter.
The five people who were shot on Sunday night are all expected to survive, according to WDIV.
Chief Craig said the 27-year-old male suspect had “very little” criminal history and that the motive for the ambush attack is unclear, MLive reported.
He noted the shooter had lost a friend to gun violence one day earlier, and that his six-month-old cousin had also died approximately one month prior, but said investigators do not know if those incidents had anything to do with the mass shooting or the attack on the officers.
“We don’t know if he was going through a state of depression at the time,” the chief said, according to ABC News. “We’re trying to figure out what would be the motive in an unprovoked way to attack Detroit police officers for no apparent reason.”
The suspect’s identity was not immediately released.
Chief Craig said he believes anti-police comments and rhetoric spewed by political leaders has played a role in the violent attacks that are being carried out against officers, ABC News reported.
“We have seen an increase in violence directed at police officers, not just here in Detroit, but around this country,” he said. “Personally, I think it’s the anti-police rhetoric.”
Chief Craig said that those in positions of leadership “sit in a seat of influence” and therefore “carry a great deal of responsibility,” ABC News reported.
“Those comments can fuel anger,” he added.