Some blocks of Tacoma Street are lined with nothing but abandoned houses, old tires and heaps of garbage. Street lights, road signs and long-dead trees are strewn across unkempt lawns and empty lots .
On Tuesday night, four young people were shot to death execution-style at a house on the 15000 block of Tacoma, near Gratiot on the northeast side.
The motive behind the killings remains unclear. The victims – one woman, three men in their early 20s – were found about 9:15 p.m.
I was in this neighborhood in October, when a man in a red pickup truck chased me with a gun while I was taking photos of abandonment from my car. It wasn’t surprising to hear about the murders.
In this area near East State Fair and Gratiot, most of the homes are vacant and collapsing, the streets increasingly dangerous.
“There’s nothing left; it’s like a bomb went off,” Wendy Johnson lamented from her nearby home in October. “We look out for each other out here. No one else is.”
Areas like this are scattered across Detroit. They’re virtually lawless and without services.
“They forget about us out here,” Ruth Lofton said. “It’s the wild west all over again. I’m scared every night.”
When I scoured these streets, talking to neighbors, they said the same thing: They are stuck in homes they cannot sell. The streets are dark and lawless. Drugs and arsons are rampant.
“What do we do?” Johnson asked. “We stuck in this hellhole.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.