HAZEL PARK — A man who allegedly used a fake gun to commit a real crime is facing felony charges after police arrested him when he reappeared six days later.
Anthony Shirlee, 20, of Detroit, was arraigned by Judge Charles Goedert in Hazel Park 43rd District Court on April 16, charged with one count of robbery armed, a felony offense carrying a potential penalty of life in prison or any number of years.
He also faces an alternate count of carjacking, which carries the same penalties and is interchangeable with the first count, should the first count fall through in court.
At press time, he was being held on $1 million cash bond or surety.
The original incident reportedly occurred around 11:30 p.m. April 9. Hazel Park police were called to the Mobile Gas Station at 161 East Nine Mile. There, they found an individual employed with a limo service, who claimed his company car — a Chrysler 300 — had been stolen by a man who threatened him with a gun.
The victim said he had just finished putting gas in the vehicle when the suspect approached him and opened his jacket, producing a gun and demanding that the victim give him the keys to the vehicle. The victim complied, and the subject entered the vehicle, fleeing the location.
But the 300 wasn’t missing for long, said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner.
“The vehicle was located approximately eight blocks away, abandoned, which is very odd in a situation like this,” Barner said. “Usually, they take them for good, have them stripped out or use them in another crime. But this vehicle was located eight blocks away. A search of the area for the subject turned up negative.”
Just like the vehicle, the suspect wasn’t missing for long. Around 6:45 p.m. April 15, police received 911 calls from the area of Eight Mile and John R, regarding a man brandishing a firearm. Officers responded to the area and located an individual matching the description of the man with the gun.
“Officers approached him and immediately recognized this individual as the person in the gas station surveillance video — the same individual who committed the carjacking,” Barner said. “He was even wearing some of the same clothing at the time of his arrest that (he) had been wearing at the time of the carjacking.”
On this suspect, they found an airsoft handgun. Even though it’s not a real gun, Barner said the law treats it no differently.
“If you possess an article used or fashioned in a manner that leads a person to reasonably believe the article was a dangerous weapon, you can be charged with robbery, armed,” Barner said. “If I put my finger under my jacket or in your back and you believe it’s a weapon, even if I don’t have a real weapon, it still counts as armed robbery.”
Barner also noted that the investigation had been ongoing at the time police were called to Eight Mile and John R, and found the suspect.
“I believe we would’ve eventually identified this individual, anyways, but it’s fortunate that we were able to arrest him when we did,” Barner said.