Ben Schmitt is a former Detroit Free Press reporter.
By Ben Schmitt
The headline leapt out of my Twitter feed at lunchtime today as I scrolled through my iPhone in a Thai restaurant – Police: Teens in car were likely targeted by gunman.
I clicked, because the story was from Detroit – 300 miles from my current home in Pittsburgh – but a place that my family and I called home for 11 years.
The quote from a Detroit assistant police chief hit me harder. I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.
I quickly learned that four teens were from the Grosse Pointes and one of them, a 16-year-old girl from University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, was shot dead. The other three were wounded and are reportedly in critical condition at Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe.
The gunman, who is at large, fired up to 30 rounds from an assault rifle into their parked car about 9:15 p.m. Monday, according to police.
Police say the teens were smoking marijuana in the car on Philip near Charlevoix, just three blocks from Detroit's border with Grosse Pointe Park, according to the Detroit Free Press. I know the intersection: I covered cops for several years when I worked as a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. I lived on the city’s east side.
Then, I saw this quote from Detroit Police Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt, a man I knew from the cop beat: “The kids in Grosse Pointe -- they think it can't happen to them. People shouldn't blame the people in Detroit; your kids are buying drugs there.”
I know Steve Dolunt. I like Steve Dolunt.
But, man, does that quote strike me as harsh.
I ran it by a few friends who still live in metro Detroit. Here are some of their reactions.
“It blurs the line between cautionary and ‘I told ya' so.' . . . It has a divisive tone.”
Another: “That’s not gonna go over well. Even if it is true.”
One more: “Wrong of an assistant chief to say that. I'm guessing it came after several dumb, but 'the kids were from Grosse Pointe' questions from reporters.”
Did Dolunt take it too far?
What are your thoughts?