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DETROIT - The man accused of fatally shooting a Detroit police officer and wounding four others Monday morning during a shootout on the city's east side is expected to be arraigned Wednesday. Jason Gibson, 25, will face charges in connection with the death of veteran police officer Brian Huff and the shooting of his partner Officer Joseph D'Angelo, Officer Kasper Harrison, Officer Steven Schram and Officer John Dunlap. Two of the wounded officers were released from the hospital. Harrison and Schram remain in serious condition at St. John Hospital.
Gibson is recovering from a gunshot wound to the lower back at St. John Hospital. Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans said Monday that the tragedy was avoidable if the suspect, who was released on bond despite having a series of convictions that included confrontations with police, would not have been released. Gibson has had past convictions for fleeing police and attempting to disarm police. "This guy's entire background is assault," he said. Evans didn't release his name, pending formal charges.
Gibson served time in prison under the name James Everet, Michigan Department of Corrections records show. He was released from prison in January after paying 10 percent of a $20,000 bond after being charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. "You can't help but wonder what probation is for if, when you violate it, there doesn t seem to be an incarceration that follows," said Evans.
In-Depth Look: at shooting suspect
The fatal shooting happened at a vacant duplex on Detroit's east side early Monday morning. Huff was in scout car 5-3 with D'Angelo. They were among the first officers to respond to the report of shots fired on the 20000 block of Schoenherr Road near 8 Mile Road, which came at 3:37 a.m. At least eight officers were at the home when Huff was shot, which was roughly ten minutes after the initial report came through the scanner. Evans said the responding officers positioned themselves at the front and rear entrances of the building. Huff was the first officer to enter through the front. He was shot multiple times above the bulletproof vest. "I think he did make entry into the house. The shell casings I saw were indicative of shots being fired within the house," said Evans. D'Angelo, went into the home through the back door. He was shot in the thigh. In total, five officers were injured trying to pull Huff out of the line of fire, police said.
All five wounded officers were taken to St. John Hospital for treatment. Schram was shot on the left foot; Harrison was shot in the right arm and had shrapnel wounds to his mouth; Dunlap was grazed in the chin by a bullet and Glover was treated for an ankle injury. Huff and most of the responding officers were from the Eastern District. Evans said Huff and D'Angelo were not dispatched to the original call, but they went on the run anyway to help the less experienced officers who were supposed to respond to that run. Eastern District Commander Steve Dolunt was visibly traumatized by the shootings. He held back tears and took deep breaths as he talked about Huff and the other wounded officers on Monday. "This is the first time in history of the Detroit Police Department that five officers were shot at one time," he said. The shooting suspect was captured in the back yard of the home after he was shot one time by officers. Police told Local 4 that the gunman was in the home looking for drugs. A .45-caliber handgun, believed to be the gunman's weapon, and a bag of marijuana were recovered, police said. Several investigative agencies, such as the Michigan State Police, the FBI, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Bureau of Firearms and Explosives and pilots with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, helped Detroit police in the investigation. A few hours after the shooting, SWAT teams stormed the home to do a final sweep, but came out empty-handed.
Residents No Strangers To Violence
Several neighbors describe the block as quiet during the day, but say gunshots are commonly heard at night and in the surrounding area. Brenda Wilson said she was awakened by gunshots early Monday. "We just heard a lot of gunshots this morning at about 3:30. About 18 or 19 rounds, and then I looked out the window and it was full of cops out there," said Wilson. Sheila Brown, 47, said she too woke up to the sound of gunshots. Brown said she has been offered drugs by people while walking past the house. "They ask you if you want to buy weed," said Brown, adding that she has previously called police, and "they come out, but the guys are gone by then." "In this area, there is a lot of drugs -- weed houses. Mostly drug houses and they are breaking into vacant houses and doing their work in vacant houses," added Brown. Evans got angry Monday afternoon when asked about the communities' response to how the gang squad has been treating residents. When asked if the gunman responded that way because of how the officers act with residents, he said, "anyone who thinks a cop can't get shot in any big city has their head in the sand." Evans said his department does have a handle on crime and a fatal police shooting can happen anywhere at any time. Evans was visible angry when he talked about Gibson's release. "This is not just police work -- this is an entire criminal justice system," he said Monday. Evans said there was a breakdown in the justice system, which he attributed to budget cuts. "There is nothing more important for the government to do than to protect its citizens and if that means more jail beds, that's what they have to do," said Evans.
Community Grieves For Fallen Officer
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing visited the slain officer's widow and 10-year-old son at the hospital. "It was the worst feeling I've had since I've been in this position and immediately I wanted to get here to be as supportive as I could be," Bing said outside the hospital. "But also to let our police officers know that the leadership in this city is behind them." Evans said he spoke to the officers and their families, although he said there was little comfort he could provide. "What can you say? You're there for them and let them talk," Evans said. "Every emotion in the world comes out: anger, hurt, frustration -- all of them are worried about the guy in the next bed, which was their partner." "These guys in there aren't worried about themselves," Evans said. "They're worrying about their brother officers. I've been doing this almost 40 years. This is not the first time but I was hoping (before) was the last time that we'd be in this situation." "They have a beautiful 10-your-child. It's just real hard," said Huff's Clinton Township neighbor Patty Anderson. Huff graduated from the police academy when he was 32. He has worked with in the Public Housing Unit and the Gaming Unit before joining the Eastern District in 2004. "His record speaks to it. The feeling of the brother officers and sister officers was he was a jewel," said Evans. His fellow officers said he was very experienced. Evans described him as "serious veteran officer." "He was aggressive on the street but he had a good heart. He was a loveable guy and everybody loved him," said DPD veteran Officer Randy Randolph in describing Huff. "He was always smiling in the morning. You can't say that much about people who work midnights," said Dolan. The last fatal shooting involving on-duty Detroit police officers happened in February 2004. Officers Jennifer Fettig and Matthew Bowens were shot and killed during a traffic stop. Eric Lee Marshall was found guilty of those murders and is currently serving a life sentence. Bowens' father, Jim Bowens, was at the hospital and said he has been advocating for the death penalty for police killers since his son died. "This is the perfect incidence of where you have eyewitnesses of people being shot. That's why I tried before and I am going to try again," said Jim Bowens.
Huff Funeral Information Released
A viewing will be held at United Memorial Funeral Home from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday for Huff. The family hour will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. United Memorial Funeral Home is located at 75 Dickinson, Mt. Clemens, 48043. The funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. The family hour will begin at 10:30 a.m. Greater Grace Temple is located at 23500 W. 7 Mile Road.