Suicidal gunman sparks park evacuation

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott, Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published July 8, 2016 | Updated July 12, 2016 4:11pm

A despondent gunman caused the evacuation of Heritage Park and a barricade of the surrounding area just before noon July 8. Farmington Hills Assistant Police Chief David Stasch said that the situation is under control and it appears that a man has committed suicide.

Police barricaded the area and evacuated families and children from the park, located in the area of Farmington Road and 11 Mile, after a call came in about a despondent man in a vehicle in the park.

More than 80 children were attending a summer camp program, and they were all safely transported by bus to the Costick Center.

The man never threatened anyone at the park, according to the release.

One witness who was in the park with her children shared her harrowing account.

“I arrived at the splash pad at around 10:30 a.m. with my two daughters. We had plans to spend the morning and afternoon with their friends, as did a lot of kids who were there with day camps and latchkey centers. ... It was packed.

“At around 10:45 a.m. we were exiting the bathroom, and a Farmington Hills police officer told us to calmly, but quickly walk to the other side of the hill. It was then that I noticed that the area had been filled with armed police.

“We found our friends and their children and did as we were instructed. Adults were talking to one another, trying to figure out what was happening. Myself and my two friends decided to continue to walk with the kids, distancing ourselves from the splash pad. More police and emergency personnel vehicles arrived on scene.

“When we got to the edge of the Farmington Road people began yelling, ‘Run!’ A woman and her daughter joined our group, and she said that she was about to leave the park when the police told her to exit her car and get to safety.

"We ran to find a safe place across the street, and when I turned back, I saw adults lifting children over a fence and people running across Farmington Road. After we knocked on three doors, we finally found someone home who helped us. The residents along Farmington Road were a blessing as many assisted the adults and their kids.

"The police shut down the road, and at around noon, an armoured car entered the park. A police officer told us to call the police station later or watch the news to find out when or how we could retrieve our belongings.”

At around noon, Farmington Hills resident Alberta Godoshian attempted to go home in the area, and police told her she could not because of the situation.

"They didn't let me get to my house, and I just want to get home. It might be serious," she said.

Parents may pick up their children from the Costick Center, located at 28600 11 Mile Road, at the normal pickup time. Police said more information will be released as it is available.