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 The city has filed a blight lawsuit against banks involved with this house on St. Margaret Street, where a barricaded gunman held police at bay July 4-5.

The city has filed a blight lawsuit against banks involved with this house on St. Margaret Street, where a barricaded gunman held police at bay July 4-5.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

St. Clair Shores institutes blight case for barricaded gunman house

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 18, 2019

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Residents came to the Oct. 7 City Council meeting looking for answers as their neighborhood continues to deal with the aftermath of a July 4 barricaded gunman situation.

“We still need answers. We are coming to you guys for help,” Katie Mason said.

Beginning after 10 p.m. July 4, 58-year-old Tom Ihlendfeldt kept police at bay for more than 24 hours after first shooting at his neighbor’s home and hitting a 62-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl. He ultimately shot himself and the woman living with him in the 31000 block of St. Margaret Street.

The house was damaged over the course of the situation by battering rams and robots, and it has been boarded up since then. But neighbors said that the continued vacancy and damage of the home is starting to affect their daily lives.

Mason said Oct. 7 that the house has been in a state of disarray and the lawn was not cut for long periods of time.

“The cement was an issue,” she said. “We are hoping to get that done before Halloween for the kids.”

Police flooded the basement of the home in an attempt to get Ihlendfeldt to surrender. But after the home was boarded up for safety, mold began to grow.

“It is polluting the whole entire neighborhood (with) this stench,” Mason told the City Council. “I understand it’s through the bank and probate, but we need help.”

City Attorney Robert Ihrie said that St. Clair Shores had already filed a blight lawsuit in Macomb County Circuit Court and was in the process of serving the two banks with an interest in the property.

“We are working feverishly on the project,” Mayor Kip Walby assured Mason and the other gathered residents of St. Margaret Street.

Ihrie said that they are hoping to save several weeks of the process to have the home demolished or rehabilitated because “we recognize that that property is a blight on the community.”

“We are putting this on a front burner so we can resolve this as soon as possible.”

A week later, Ihrie said that because the homeowner is deceased, the city has taken steps to open a probate estate so that the city can have a personal representative with which to communicate.

“Once that happens, we will be in a position to attempt to negotiate a resolution with the personal representative and try to expedite a resolution,” he said.

Although he cannot predict the speed of the judicial system, Ihrie said they are working as fast as they can to resolve the problem.

“We understand that the neighbors are very concerned and we are concerned as well, so we’re going to move as quickly as we can,” he said.