Detroit Police Chief Says Officers Were Not Chasing Car That Slammed Into House In Fiery Wreck

Police say the suspects were involved in a gang.

WWJ News
October 09, 2019 - 9:44 pm

photo: WWJ/Charlie Langton

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DETROIT -- Detroit Police Chief James Craig is defending his officers that were on the scene of a deadly crash that claimed two lives and severely damaged a home on Tuesday.

Preliminary reports Tuesday said a traffic stop on the city's west side led to a police chase that ended with a car full of people involved in an active street gang colliding with an SUV and slamming into a house on Chalmers near Kercheval. But Craig says the officers that made the stop were not in fact chasing the car.

The officers made a traffic stop in the area shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday and Craig says because the suspects' vehicle quickly reached speeds in excess 70 mph, officers did not chase them. The vehicle collided with an SUV and veered off the road and engulfed in flames upon hitting the house.

Authorities said Tuesday an a female, approximately 18 years old, and a male, believed to be 18 or 19 years old, were killed, while three other teenagers were hospitalized with serious injuries. The house also caught fire and has been condemned by the city, leaving a family homeless. A GoFundMe fundraiser page has been set up to help that family.

Craig says the suspects were part of an active street gang that has been linked to countless crimes in recent months.

"Since the beginning of summer, 29 what we call 'smash-and-grabs,' a couple robberies, and one incident of the 29 that involved a gun," Craig said Wednesday.

The chief says police had recently been trying to save one of the deceased victims from a life of crime, as he was part of a community outreach program.

"He was involved our brotherhood, a program and very positive in the program. Unfortunately, he continued to engage in this kind of criminal activity," Craig said.

Craig called the officers' actions after the crash heroic.

"Our officers, when that car was engulfed in flames, they went to rescue those occupants. They took their fire extinguishers. Unfortunately, they were not successful. They may have pulled one person to safety, they did get a couple out, so – heroic."