WarrenAugust 1, 2012
Officer shot, suspect killed after dispute over money
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
A Warren police officer was shot in the stomach during an early morning encounter in the 7000 block of Paige on Aug. 1.
The suspected shooter was killed when police returned fire, Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said.
Green said officer Don Viars of Macomb Township, 35, an eight-year veteran of the Warren Police Department, was among a group of six officers who responded to the home near Nine Mile and Sherwood after a renter called 911 to report that a 53-year-old Ecorse man arrived at the house and put a gun to his roommate’s head during a dispute over money.
The suspect, who was not immediately named, reportedly emerged from the home and fired shots at two officers — including Viars — when they arrived and ordered him to drop his weapon, a .380-cal semi-automatic handgun carried legally with a concealed pistol license.
Five of the six officers, including Viars, immediately returned fire, fatally striking the suspect numerous times. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Green said the ensuing investigation determined that a 21-year-old woman summoned the suspect to the home after she was sent there earlier in the night when two residents arranged an encounter on the Internet. The man reportedly arrived and demanded payment after the woman unsuccessfully haggled with the men over the price of the services.
“Based on interviews with the witnesses and based on physical evidence, we’ve confidently concluded that the two gentlemen returned home from a night out and were seeking female companionship,” Green said.
“The result of this communication was the female arrived at their home, a 21-year-old resident of Ecorse. She was there for an hour and a half, and it appeared there was a dispute over payment. She called the deceased, who arrived at the home with the handgun, forced his way into the home, and demanded payment.”
The woman reportedly fled the house as officers arrived but was eventually taken into custody and questioned. She, along with both men who reside at the home, cooperated fully with police when they were questioned and were eventually released. No charges were expected to be filed.
“It would appear that the deceased came to the aid of this young lady in collecting what she felt was owed her,” Green said. “All of the questions have been answered, except the one question — why did he shoot at police? They were fully marked cars, officers in uniform.”
Green said Viars’ tactical vest likely saved his life. He was taken from the scene to Warren’s St. John Macomb Oakland Hospital, where he was treated for a large bruise that resulted in some bleeding.
The bullet was lodged in the vest and did not enter Viars’ body, Green said.
Viars was normally assigned to midnights and previously worked as a police officer in the city of Detroit before coming to Warren eight years ago.
The five officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave per departmental policy pending a full investigation.
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