Police: Suspect shot friend multiple times, claimed self-defense

By: Brian Louwers | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 24, 2021

 Strickland

Strickland

EASTPOINTE — A 26-year-old Detroit man has been charged with first-degree murder after Eastpointe police said that he shot his friend multiple times during an argument outside a home near Toepfer Road and Gratiot Avenue early Nov. 20. 

Gregory John Strickland was arraigned by Judge Kathleen Galen in the 38th District Court Nov. 22. He also faces a weapons charge and one count of concealing the death of an individual. 

Eastpointe Public Safety Director George Rouhib said Strickland claimed he shot his friend, Juwan McCreary, 27, also of Detroit, in self-defense during a disagreement of some kind outside a home in the 22000 block of Firwood Avenue. Police believe Strickland’s cousin lives there, but investigators don’t know what the men were doing at the house at about 1 a.m. when the shooting took place. 

“They were only in the house maybe 30 seconds,” Rouhib said. “The victim came out first and he got into his car. It looked like he was agitated. Then, the suspect came out. He got in the car. They sat in the car for a while. It appeared to be that they were arguing.”

Rouhib said the exchange was captured on a neighbor’s security camera. Police have not released the video.

“We believe (McCreary) kicked (Strickland) out of the car. The victim (McCreary) got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side and the passenger (Strickland) got out. They were arguing about something — we don’t know,” Rouhib said. “But it escalated into a shoving match.”

The men then moved along the driver’s side of the car, at which point Strickland allegedly fired six shots from a 9 mm handgun.

“After he fired the rounds, he kind of dragged the body to the back seat, opened up the door and then placed the body in the car,’ Rouhib said.

Strickland allegedly tried to access the trunk first but couldn’t get it open.  

“We don’t know what his thought process was. We believe the initial thing was he was going to take his friend to the hospital, but when you fire six rounds at him, it’s pretty much over then,” Rouhib said.

After the shooting, Strickland allegedly drove to Moross Road and Rolandale Street in Detroit, near Ascension St. John Hospital, where he abandoned the vehicle with McCreary still in the back seat. He then called Detroit police and told them where the vehicle was. 

“He said he hurt his friend; it was in self-defense. Detroit police made the scene. They did discover the body. Obviously, the victim was deceased,” Rouhib said.

Detroit police later arrested Strickland without incident and turned him over to Eastpointe investigators. Rouhib said detectives obtained a search warrant for Strickland’s residence in Detroit, where evidence was recovered. 

Police said Strickland is licensed to carry a concealed pistol; McCreary was not armed.

“The only thing we don’t know at this point is why they were arguing,” Rouhib said. “He wasn’t that cooperative.”

Rouhib added, “He fired five rounds. What was troubling was the last round. There was a gap, and he fired again. It was almost like an execution-type shot. You could see the victim on his side, like in a defensive posture.

“He said self-defense. The guy was on the ground. He was not armed. He was shot several times, and if he wanted medical treatment, he should have called an ambulance. He should have drove him to the hospital, instead of letting him remain in the car.” Rouhib said. 

Strickland was ordered held in the Macomb County Jail without bail ahead of his next court appearance, a probable cause conference at 8 a.m. Dec. 7. He requested a court-appointed attorney, according to court records.

First-degree murder is punishable by mandatory life in prison.