Reporting Laura Bonnell
DETROIT (WWJ) - An off-duty police officer was caught in the crossfire after taking on a couple of suspected car thieves on Detroit’s west side.
The situation unfolded around early Tuesday morning at Margareta Avenue and Asbury Park, near the area of 7 Mile and Southfield roads.
An off-duty officer who lives in the area told police he got a phone call from a neighbor around 5:30 a.m., telling him it looked like his car was being stolen. Sgt. Michael Woody said the officer grabbed his gun and badge and ran outside to see what was going on, but his car was already gone.
“Once the officer had realized that his vehicle had been taken, he started searching the neighborhood and located the vehicle about three blocks over from where he lives,” Woody told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell.
When the officer approached the vehicle, he saw two men in the process of stripping it down, trying to remove the tires.
“He approached them, identified himself and ordered them to the ground, at which point one of the suspects had complied and the second fled the scene,” Woody said.
At that point, the officer started to focus on the suspect he was able to detain. But a few minutes later, the second suspect returned to the scene.
“The suspect that had fled the scene returned in a gold-colored Buick, but we’re not sure how many people were inside the vehicle. The suspect inside began to argue with the off-duty officer about releasing the other suspect that he had in custody,” Woody said.
When the officer held his ground and refused to let the suspect go, the other suspect opened fire.
“The officer demanded that he would not release the suspects, that he was an off-duty officer, at which point the suspects inside the vehicle drew a weapon out, pointed it at the officer and they began exchanging fire,” Woody said.
As the officer was dodging bullets, another vehicle pulled up to the scene and a second gunman started shooting.
“It was a blue minivan, and they engaged in a gunfight as well. The officer was actively engaging both vehicles,” Woody said.
With gunfire coming at the officer from two different directions, the detained suspect apparently decided it was the perfect time to make his getaway.
“During the course of the gunfight, the suspect that was in custody, he was still on the ground, he got up and ran and jumped into the blue minivan and both vehicles left the location,” Woody said.
The off-duty officer, a sergeant with the River Rouge Police Department, was uninjured during the shooting. Woody said it’s not clear whether any of the suspects suffered any gunshot wounds.
“It is undetermined at this time if there were any injuries inside either vehicle, however we are certain that the off-duty officer was able to shoot out the windows in both vehicles,” he said.
Woody said police are now searching for the suspects, who were dressed in all black, as well as the vehicles involved in the incident.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police at 313-267-4600.