Police observe possible uptick in gun-related crimes

Police observe possible uptick in gun-related crimes

File photo by Deb Jacques

Troy police observe possible uptick in gun-related crimes

By: Andy Kozlowski | Troy Times | Published November 20, 2020


TROY — A recent rash of gun-related crimes in Troy is likely not a trend, police say, but they are still urging vigilance during the holiday shopping season.

“It’s important for people to realize that even though Troy is a safe place, no place is immune from crime,” Troy Police Sgt. Meghan Lehman said in an email.

At Somerset Collection, there have been a number of recent incidents involving guns.

On Nov. 3 at 4:45 p.m., officers responded to a verbal altercation at Somerset Collection South, where a handgun had been implied, locating three suspects as they exited the Neiman Marcus store. They started questioning them about the alleged altercation and asked to conduct a weapons search, which is when one suspect fled on foot. He ran down the escalators, lost his footing and fell to the floor, causing a handgun to slip out from his waistband. Police secured the weapon and later took the man into custody in the westbound lanes of Big Beaver Road. The gun was found to have been stolen in Jackson. The man also had nine credit cards that were believed to have been stolen.

On Oct. 28, police intercepted a man in the Somerset parking lot near Saks Fifth Avenue at 4:50 p.m. when they saw him walking toward the store with a handgun protruding from his waistband. He told them he had a valid concealed pistol license, but his weapon was reportedly unregistered. The man claimed he thought he was a “sovereign citizen” — a philosophy that people are free from legal constraints. Police took the gun and released the man, although charges could still come.

On Oct. 25, witnesses heard a series of gunshots in the north parking lot of Neiman Marcus at Somerset around 4:30 p.m. and called police. At the time of the incident, officers were already responding to a report of a loud verbal argument between two groups of men that had just taken place inside the mall. Police do not know if the shooting and argument are related, but officials say the shooting does not appear to be a random attack. Police located shell casings that suggest at least two guns were involved. Four vehicles in the parking lot were struck by the gunfire, although none of them were occupied at the time. Several suspects were arrested, but the investigation is ongoing, with police looking for a dark gray or silver SUV with a boxy body type, possibly a Dodge Durango, which may have been involved in the incident.

And on Oct. 2, around 4:15 p.m., police were called to Somerset on a report of a possible assault involving a gun at the Nordstrom store. Police arrived and found four individuals running across Big Beaver Road through traffic, including a man that matched a description of one of the suspects. That man was arrested and found to have a Glock semiautomatic handgun in a shopping bag, as well as an outstanding probation warrant from an armed robbery charge.

A review of arrests for concealed weapons violations, in particular, shows that five have occurred at Somerset this year through Nov. 11, compared to none in 2019 and three in 2018.

“So even though there’s been an increase (in gun-related crimes at Somerset), it’s still a relatively small number of concealed weapons offenses,” Lehman said.

The gun-related crimes lately haven’t been limited to Somerset, either.

On Oct. 18, there was a drive-by shooting around 1:40 a.m. in a residential area in the 100 block of Scottsdale Drive. No one was injured, but at least nine bullet holes were discovered in the property of the home that was targeted. Police believe this was a deliberate act. At press time it remained under investigation, and police are asking people in the area to check any home surveillance systems that may have captured the incident.

On Oct. 24, just after midnight, police pulled over a green 2004 Ford Expedition along Livernois Road, north of Linda Street, while responding to a reported “registration violation,” and the driver ran away on foot. The other four occupants of the car spoke to police and said they were going to a party but couldn’t give a reason for the driver fleeing. The police then tracked down the driver in the parking lot of a nearby business, and the man told them he had a gun that he had thrown away as he ran. Police recovered the weapon — a small handgun — in some greenery.

And on Oct. 27, police were called to the area of Coolidge Highway, north of Maple Road, on a report that someone in a silver 2016 Cadillac ATS was “brandishing and pointing” a gun at motorists. While this incident didn’t start at Somerset, it ended there, with police locating the suspect vehicle in the parking lot by Somerset’s Saks Fifth Avenue and finding what appeared to be a gun inside. When the four occupants returned to their vehicle, the driver reportedly said the gun was a pellet gun and he had gotten into a road rage encounter, pointing it at another drive. A passenger was found to have brass knuckles and a double-edged knife. The driver was arrested for felonious assault and the passenger for having brass knuckles. Both were 17-year-olds from Dearborn.

Regarding the gunfire incidents near Neiman Marcus and on Scottsdale Drive, Lehman said they stand out because they’re rare.

“With Troy being a community with very little violent crime, these incidents are remarkable,” she said. “These incidents are like most crime anywhere else, however — they involve two or more parties that had a preexisting conflict. These are not random or spontaneous.”

She said the Troy police work with the security teams at both malls in Troy — Somerset as well as Oakland Mall — and that many individual stores have their own loss prevention teams that also cooperate with police.

The sergeant advised people to use caution and common sense.

“People should be aware of their surroundings and always move away from — not toward — conflicts, fights or other violence,” Lehman said. “Don’t engage — let it go. This advice works for road rage incidents, conflicts over parking spaces or any other type of potentially violent encounter that could occur in a public setting.”

If you know more about the cases above, or any others, call Troy police at (248) 524-3477.