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Royal Oak police investigating house party after reports of gunshots

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 17, 2020

File photo by Deb Jacques

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ROYAL OAK — At approximately 11:48 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, the Royal Oak Police Department received multiple reports of gunshots heard in the area of Pingree Boulevard and Virginia Avenue, near Troy Street and 11 Mile Road.

Responding officers discovered a large number of people fleeing from a home in the 400 block of Pingree. Police set up a perimeter and began conducting traffic stops on vehicles fleeing the area.

Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, said police arrested a 20-year-old Clinton Township man who was operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and in possession of a stolen firearm.

“It was posted on social media that they were having a party. It was pretty much an open invite to an Airbnb house party,” Carter said. “Obviously, they had a lot of people attending this party, so the officers immediately started trying to interview people and check for any victims.”

Airbnb Inc. is an online marketplace for renting lodging. The company acts as a broker, receiving commissions from each booking, but does not own any real estate listings, nor does it host events.

Carter said more than 20 people were still inside the home when police arrived. When officers did not locate any victims in the vicinity, Carter said, officers checked local hospitals for gunshot wound patients but have so far identified no victims.

“No one’s talking. (The house party attendees have been) very uncooperative, in addition to the gentleman in our custody. He wants to speak to an attorney,” Carter said Feb. 17. “We’re still investigating, but we are putting together charges (against the Clinton Township man).”

He said the charges would include operating while intoxicated and possession of a stolen firearm, but police might seek more as they continue the investigation.

“We are looking into the Airbnb. It’s relatively new, and we haven’t had too many issues with them in the city,” Carter said. “We’re looking into who owns the house and if somebody else rented it out.”

He said the area in question is a quiet residential neighborhood.

“We’re really proud of the officers for getting there so quickly and taking control of a very chaotic situation,” he said.

Ben Breit, a spokesman for Airbnb, said the Airbnb host’s house rules expressly forbade parties or events at the house in question, so the party that took place was unauthorized.

“Unauthorized parties represent a serious breach of trust, and we are outraged at the reported violence. We have banned the booking guest from our platform and are providing support to our host,” Breit said. “We also stand ready to support Royal Oak PD in their investigation.”

Airbnb has launched a 24/7 neighborhood support line so that neighbors or community members can flag issues in real time. For more information about the line, visit www.airbnb.com/neighbors.

Police ask that anyone with information regarding the incident immediately contact the Royal Oak Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at (248) 246-3456.

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