By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor
Detroit (CBS Detroit) Google’s mapping truck caught a disturbing image at what appears to be the same home where a 1-year-old girl was found dead inside a closet at her grandmother’s house in July.
No one’s been charged in that case.
But the same distinctive yellow brick house with the green porch is featured in a Google maps image of a Detroit neighborhood.
Only in the Google image, time-stamped September 2009, a group of young men stand ominously on the porch, one clutching what appears to be a shotgun. One of the men appears to point the gun at the Google truck in the final shot. See the images on Google Street View.
Maryland meteorologist Jacob Wycoff, who was recently in Detroit on a business trip, spotted the Google maps image, and said he could hardly believe it.
“I was actually just there in July,” Wycoff said. “It’s certainly uneasy to see that type of stuff, I guess it happens in any major city, but Detroit sort of has a reputation now … That he actually points the gun at him?”
If the gunman was ever identified, is this a crime? Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said not necessarily.
Worthy said a lot of questions would need to be answered.”Was it this person’s home? Because you do have a right to bear arms in your home. Certainly it looks like he’s on a porch that’s attached to a home, so that would not be a legal issue. Is this person an adult or a juvenile?”
Worthy said, in certain circumstances, even pointing a gun at someone is not illegal, if you feel threatened.
Google has a distinctively decorated mapping truck heading through metro Detroit with a camera mounted on top to perfect its satellite maps, with the goal of creating a 3-D map of every place in the world.
In this case, the truck was at Brinker and Robinwood in Detroit when the camera captured the young people with the weapon. The gun holder appears to follow the driver with the weapon — and points it at the truck in the final shot.
The home is identical to the place where baby Zyia Turner was discovered dead in a closet, with her cause of death undetermined. At the time, her father said his brother was watching several children Friday at the home near 7 Mile Road and Conant when she went missing. Police cadaver dogs later found her body buried under a pile of clothes in the closet.
There have been no arrests in connection with Zyia’s death. Police said family members have been cooperative.
But will this image available to anyone trying to plot out a route in Detroit put another black eye on the city?
Worthy said the image just “adds another layer” to the poor opinion many already have.
Marc Hoffman wrote on Facebook, “If I was the driver, I would refuse to drive down any of those streets.”
Merry Campbell hopes Google re-shoots the image for the sake of the city. “It’s a shame the image is being shown,” she wrote on Facebook. “It gives a terrible impression of the city, which already has a bad reputation, as it is. I hope that whoever is in charge at Google maps will reshoot it!”