Detroit – The fatal Interstate 75 shooting last week in which 2-year-old Brison Christian was killed and his 9-year-old brother injured was a “mistaken identity” case, police and prosecutors said on Tuesday .
The boys’ father, Brian Christian, was driving the Dearborn family down the southbound lanes of Seven Mile after watching a basketball game when a light-colored four-door vehicle pulled up and heard loud bangs. shots then noticed that his pickup was malfunctioning, the Wayne County Attorney’s office said Tuesday.
He stopped and he and his wife realized their sons had been hit, Brison in the head, Brother BJ in the arm and their truck hit several times.
Wayne County District Attorney Kym Worthy said two Detroit men charged Tuesday “mistakenly identified the Christians’ black truck based on its color and brand”, believing it to be someone. one else.
“The Christian family were innocent victims,” Worthy said in a statement.
For the second summer in a row, Detroit and Michigan State Police officials have said they will step up patrols on Detroit’s metro freeways after a series of shootings.
At a press conference on Tuesday, police officials announced “Operation Brison,” an effort they called multi-jurisdictional to crack down on highway violence, in response to Thursday’s deadly shooting of 2-year-old Brison.
The initiative will be “a coordinated effort with neighboring police departments that have freeway veins that flow into the city,” Acting Detroit Police Chief James White said, adding that the focus will be put on the pooling of information and resources.
“It will involve eyes in the sky, air support and highway patrols to make sure we are on the lookout for incidents of road rage and other violence,” White said. “I won’t say these things won’t happen again, but we’ll have the attention to make sure they’re reduced.
“We want to have a bigger presence on the freeways to capture aggressive drivers and other potential problems,” White said.
He said he did not want to reveal which other police departments would be involved until each signed a formal memorandum of understanding. He added that details of the initiative were still being finalized and that he planned to meet with police chiefs in the region later this week to determine the responsibilities of the respective agencies.
It was not clear how much the initiative could cost or when it could begin.
Earlier this month, Mayor Mike Duggan authorized White to pay 4,000 overtime per week for officers to work on the details of crowd management, and 2,000 overtime overtime per week for a plan to fight against the crowds. drag racing and drifting and the noisy “party atmosphere” in neighborhoods and parks that often lead to fights or gun shots.
Last year, the state police increased their patrols after there were 12 highway shootings in three weeks. It was the latest effort to curb highway violence that dates back decades.
Brian Christian said he racked his brains after the shooting trying to figure out why he was being targeted before learning his truck had been mistaken for someone else’s.
“I’m replaying the incident in the back of my mind, thinking about what I could have done differently,” Christian said at Tuesday’s press conference.
Five days after the shooting, Christian thanked investigators for arresting his son’s suspected killers and whom police named their operation after Brison.
After learning that police determined the shooting was a case of a mistaken identity, Christian said he felt a little relieved that he had done nothing to cause his son’s death.
“The conclusion I came to was that I don’t think I could have done anything… if I’m with my family coming from a family event, with Brison in his car seat where he’s supposed to be. . I was doing the right thing, and I find peace with it. “
Wayne County prosecutors charged Eugene Hubbard, 21, and Darius Lanier, 19, with the murder of Brison on Tuesday.
“It is alleged that the defendants opened fire on the vehicle with the two children on the highway before fleeing the scene,” said a statement from the prosecutor. “It is further alleged that the defendants mistakenly identified the Christian’s black truck based on its color and brand; the Christian family were innocent victims.”
“I kept saying, ‘What did I do to make someone want to kill me and my family? I’m doing everything the right way.’ I just couldn’t put it together.
“What would have torn me apart more than anything would have been if I had found out that someone had killed my baby for something I did,” he said. “With the police revealing it was a mistake… this closure was huge for me.”
White said Brison’s murder and other violence in the city are the work of “evil predators in our community who focus on our children, shooting indiscriminately. Enough is enough.”
“As a police community we are fed up; the community should be fed up – and I know they are fed up, because I got more calls on this case than on any other case,” said White.
“These evil predators need to be taken off the streets,” White said. “This so called no-snitch came with something else when I was riding: you don’t hurt children or women.”
At Tuesday’s press conference, Mayor Mike Duggan called Brison’s murder “a citywide tragedy.”
“The worst call I get is the one I got from Chief White on Thursday to say we had lost a 2 year old,” Duggan said. “It’s so hard to come to terms with, and in the days that followed I thought the clearest statement had been made by Brison’s dad, Brian Christian, who said he wanted Brison to be the face of the shootings on the highway.
“We are not going to accept as normal the idea that people are driving up and down highways shooting cars,” the mayor said. “It cannot be accepted. As a community we have to fight.”
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw on Tuesday credited Detroit’s Project Green Light, which sends high-definition video streams to DPD’s Real Time Center, with the capture of Brison’s suspected killers.
“Anyone talking about the Green Light camera system just doesn’t know what they did to get us to take these people into custody,” Shaw said. “I can’t go into a lot of details of the investigation as it is ongoing and there may be more arrests to come.”
Brian Christian said his son’s murder prompted him to try to make changes.
“I have found my new calling,” he said. “I had a good heart, but now I feel like I have a voice to push for change. I will continue to keep my son’s name alive and continue to do good things for the community.”
The family started an online GoFundMe fundraiser to help with funeral and other expenses.
Highway shootings go back decades
Operation Brison is the latest police effort to tackle highway shootings – a problem that dates back decades.
From February 1988 to January 1989, there were 17 shootings on the highways in the region. Most have not been resolved.
In October 2012, Raulie Casteel of Wixom shot 23 vehicles on Interstate 96. He was convicted of terrorism and is serving a sentence of 18 to 40 years in prison.
State police said they believed three shootings on the highway on December 7, 2017 were the work of a gunman, although no arrests were made.
January 24, 2019, murder of Christian Miller, 3, who was shot while driving with his godmother on the Southfield Freeway, made headlines. The family were heading to “Sesame Street Live” in Detroit.
Police say Derrick Durham fired his gun because he was cut off in traffic.
Durham, who was charged with murder in public days after the shooting, is awaiting trial. Court records show that a jury trial began on December 2, 2019, but an annulment was declared four days later.
Since the murder charges were reinstated, several petitions have been filed and further delays have occurred. A review hearing on July 20 is scheduled before Wayne Circuit Judge Margaret Van Houten.
15 shootings since Saturday
Recent violence has not been limited to the highways. Detroit Police have reported 15 shootings, including four fatal, since Saturday, including a father and son who were slaughtered on Father’s Day, in what police said was likely the fallout from an argument at a party.
As of Tuesday, there have been 152 criminal homicides in Detroit this year, up from 129 in the same period last year and 101 since the start of the year in 2019. But the year-over-year number has increased more dramatically. Detroit recorded 327 criminal homicides in 2020, up 19% from 274 the year before. And non-fatal shootings increased even more dramatically last year, with 1,173 shootings, up 53% from 2019.
With many recent shootings believed to have taken place after large crowds gathered, White earlier this month announced a crowd control plan which he said was aimed at stopping potential problems at large gatherings before they started.
White has said since taking command of the police department on June 1, Detroit Police have made more than 600 illegal firearms arrests and confiscated 750 illegal firearms.
“If you ask me what drives the crime, it’s largely impulsive decision-making,” White said. “These are bad choices; people shoot a family’s car leaving a basketball game. How do you unpack that?”
Editor-in-chief James David Dickson contributed.