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Harper Woods, Grosse Pointes

November 19, 2012

Suspect who allegedly shot at police faces up to life in prison

Grosse Pointes assisted at scene of shooting

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

A man who was firing a weapon inside a home Nov. 16 allegedly turned his rampage toward police, shooting at officers and damaging police vehicles and nearby homes.

No one was injured in the incident, and police were able to apprehend the suspect. Lester Chambers, 41, was arrested at his home following a standoff with police. He now faces numerous charges, including assault with intent to murder — which carries a sentence of up to life in prison — discharge of a firearm at a building and malicious destruction of police property.

“You are charged with lots of counts — 27 of them to be exact,” 32A District Court Judge Roger La Rose said during Chambers’ arraignment Nov. 19.

The judge decided not to grant bond during the arraignment.

“Bond is denied due to the nature of these (charges),” La Rose said. “I’m also very concerned that you may have an untreated mental condition here.”

Police were called to the 20900 block of Lancaster at about 2:30 p.m. because someone heard gunfire in the backyard of a home.

When police arrived, they heard shots coming from inside the home and called for backup officers. While they secured the area around the home, they heard more shots in the home and requested assistance from Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety as mutual aid, according to information police released on Nixle.com.

While officers continued to work outside on setting up a perimeter, the suspect allegedly fired a shotgun out the door at the officers on the scene. He reportedly fired at the officers a couple of different times during the standoff. Officers reportedly fired back at the suspect when he was shooting at them, but they did not injure the suspect.

“They took cover behind their scout cars,” Harper Woods Police Chief James Burke said. The scout cars were damaged in the shooting.

Prior to the end of the standoff, Burke called Chambers on a cellphone. After speaking with Burke and a family member, Chambers turned himself in.

“He decided to surrender, came to the front door, threw the shotgun down and surrendered,” Burke said.

Burke praised the work of the original officers on the scene, officers John Biernat and Steven Mueller, as well as Sgts. Chris Schaft and Vince Smith.

“They just did an outstanding job reacting to a very quickly developing situation, a very dangerous situation,” Burke said.

The officers made sure residents in the area took shelter so they were safe during the incident. Burke said he is grateful no one was injured. 

Grosse Pointe Woods, Farms and the Special Response Team, which is made up of all five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods, assisted during the incident.

“They did a great job,” Burke said of everyone on the scene. “We had a lot of backup support from the Grosse Pointes.”

Grosse Pointe Schools in the vicinity went on lockdown until police cleared the barricaded gunman situation, according to information from the schools.

With family in the courtroom, Chambers answered questions about his past.

Chambers told the judge that he lived in the rental home with his wife and two young children.

“I dropped out in 11th grade, but I retained my GED,” he told the judge when asked.

When asked about a possible history of mental problems, Chambers admitted that he was in counseling several years ago for suppressed anger and depression. He also said he has been unemployed for the last several years after a work injury.

During the arraignment, police told the judge that the shotgun Chambers allegedly was using during the incident had jammed so he couldn’t fire any more shells.

Chambers will return to court for his preliminary examination Nov. 28. La Rose said he would have an attorney appointed to represent Chambers.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.