Off-Duty Detroit officer critically shot during ‘gun battle’ with armed robber

Motor City Liquor at Gratiot and Chene. Photo by Steve Neavling.

A shootout between an off-duty Detroit police officer and an armed robbery suspect turned deadly late Sunday night outside of an east-side liquor store on Gratiot, less than a mile from downtown.

The rookie officer, who was shot in the torso and foot around 11 p.m., was in critical condition and undergoing emergency surgery as of 1 a.m.

In an exchange of gunfire, the suspect was killed. No other injuries were reported.

As many as two conspirators are still on the loose.

Based on an exterior surveillance camera, police said the 27-year-old officer was leaving the store at Gratiot and Chene when he was confronted by a would-be robber with a gun. The officer, who has not been identified, was armed and able to shoot the unnamed suspect during an exchange of fire.

“There was a gun battle between the off-duty officer and the suspect,” Chief James Craig told WDIV on a live Facebook video.

“The suspect ran in the direction of the officer, with his hands extended holding a gun,” Craig said. “The officer certainly, fearing for his life, fired a shot, resulting in the suspect being fatally shot. During the exchange, the officer also was shot.”

Immediately after the shooting, an accomplice rushed to the suspect and retrieved his gun and may have taken the officer’s weapon, Craig said.

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The suspected accomplice, who was only described as a black male, fled the scene in a black sedan. A third potential suspected pulled up to the liquor store in a Dodge Durango and stayed at the scene for 8 minutes before fleeing.

Craig said it was too soon to say whether the robbery was random.

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Police were unable to get better details of the suspects’ cars or the license plates because the surveillance cameras were poor quality. Under the city’s Project Green Light, more than 120 businesses use high-definition cameras that are fed into the Detroit Police Real-Time Crime Center, where the footage is monitored live. City officials are working on a proposal to require venues that stay open after 10 p.m. to participate in the program.

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“Unfortunately this is not good video,” Craig said.

Craig said the officer was only on the job for six months.

“We just hope the officer gets through surgery,” Craig said around 1 a.m.

Since September, nine Detroit police officers have been shot.

Steve Neavling

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.