Babysitter, kids hide during home break-in

Police: ‘Getaway’ Mercedes ran out of gas

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 3, 2021

 Najib Bashar Azooz

Najib Bashar Azooz

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights police reported that a suspect’s luck ran dry after his alleged getaway vehicle ran out of gas following a home invasion.

Police were alerted to a home invasion in progress at around 11 p.m. Nov. 12 in the 38700 block of Westchester Road, near 17 Mile and Mound roads. The home reportedly contained a 19-year-old babysitter who “locked herself and the children in the master bedroom.”

When police checked out the home, they saw the glass rear door wall broken and a suspect who reportedly was leaving. Police said they pursued the suspect and noticed that an apparent getaway vehicle, a black Mercedes driven by “a second suspect,” was also trying to escape. That vehicle “intentionally hit one of our officers who was on foot,” police said, adding that the officer was hospitalized with minor injuries and was said to be recovering.

Police reportedly tracked down the vehicle and arrested the driver along westbound M-59, by Auburn Road, after the suspect’s fuel tank became empty and he could no longer flee. Police reportedly investigated further and concluded that cash and other personal valuables were taken during the reported home invasion.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said in an email that “only one person,” the driver, was inside the vehicle. Police did not mention what happened to the other suspect.

Police said the home invasion might’ve happened due to the residents sharing family wedding proceedings on social media. A statement from Bastianelli urged residents to be careful of what and how they post on social media, especially while they’re at events and not at home.

“This private information being shared on social media could make you a target by potential criminals looking to do you and your family harm,” the statement said.

The suspect was identified as Najib Bashar Azooz, 24, from Shelby Township. He was arraigned before Magistrate Michael Piatek in 41-A District Court and was charged with first-degree home invasion, fleeing a police officer and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Bond was set at $250,000 cash or surety of 10%, with tether conditions also being added upon possible release, the court confirmed.

Azooz’s listed attorney, David Griem, declined to delve into the case’s details, but he made the following statement about his client in a phone call with the Sentry.

“Najib has been a good citizen. To my knowledge, he has no criminal record, and he is very sorrowful, especially when he found out there was a babysitter and a baby in the home. That was not anticipated, but he’s regretful,” Griem said.

“I’ve met with his parents several times. The whole family is just so sad and so regretful.”

Anyone who has more information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Sterling Heights Police Department’s Investigations Bureau by calling (586) 446-2825.

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