While tens of thousands of visitors descended on downtown Detroit for the fireworks Monday evening, hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers saturated the riverfront to quickly dissolve any problems.
But in the neighborhoods, where police were already overwhelmed, the emergency calls rolled in at a pace much faster than officers could respond. Between 8 p.m. and midnight, when a bulk of police resources were downtown, officers were called to at least three shootings, seven home invasions, three armed robberies, four arsons, a rape and numerous domestic assaults.
Just before the fireworks started at 10:10 p.m., a man covered in blood pulled up to Sinai Grace Hospital and passed out after he had been shot in the head during an attempted car-jacking at a Church’s Chicken at 7 Mile and Southfield. He died.
On the west side, police were called to a home on the 17000 block of Trinity where three mothers and more than five babies were reportedly living in a feces-covered home. About a half hour later, at 11:30 p.m., a woman on the 1000 block of West Chicago was clutching her torn clothes, saying she had been raped on the side of the road after getting off the bus.
With fewer police in the neighborhoods, victims were forced to wait longer: There were only enough officers to respond to the gravest cases. Robberies, arsons and car accidents took a backseat to violent, life-threatening incidents.
On Tuesday morning, headlines trumpeted the relatively peaceful environment at the fireworks. Nothing was mentioned of the shootings and other neighborhood crimes.
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.