Friday, July 8, 2011

Gun Horror, Breaking News from Michigan

One of the things which always strikes me when I read about episodes of tragic violence like this, is that the majority of us clearly believe what this person has done is wrong. But clearly this murderer was utterly convinced that he was right somehow in coming to the decision to do this terrible thing. Clearly, he was wrong.

But how do we EFFECTIVELY prevent people from committing violence, violence they commit more effectively with firearms than with other weapons? How do we stop them from acting violently, and how do we stop them from obtaining weapons? The alternative that everyone must be armed, and everyone must be shooting each other is not a solution.


Suspect kills self after 7 bodies found in Mich.

Children among the dead; alleged gunman led police on chase, took hostages

Image: Scene outside home where bodies were found
Chris Clark  /  AP
A man who claimed his daughter was inside a house where three bodies were found collapses in the street Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The suspect wanted in the deaths of seven people, including two children, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after an hours-long standoff, Michigan police said late Thursday night.
Hours earlier, dozens of police officers with guns drawn descended on a Grand Rapids neighborhood and cornered the suspect in a home.
Police said that after a high-speed pursuit, the suspect crashed his vehicle, ran and broke into a home and took what was intially reported to be two people hostage. One hostage, a 53-year-old woman, was released, but police later said two hostages remained inside the house.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk said police were communicating with the man, identified as 34-year-old Rodrick Shonte Dantzler. During negotiations to end the standoff, a gunshot was heard. Belk said Dantzler died from a self-inflicted wound.  Belk told reporters that the two hostages were safe, but were being evaluated by medical personnel.
Mayor George Heartwell described the saga as "a rolling rampage" that included gunbattles with police in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids that left a squad car shot up.
"This is so uncharacteristic of Grand Rapids. We are all stunned about it," Heartwell said in a telephone interview.
Chase begins The manhunt began after four people were found dead in one Grand Rapids home and three were found in another across town. A 10-year-old girl was reported dead in a home in the 2400 block of Plainfield Avenue Northeast, the Grand Rapids Press reported, and a child was dead in a home in the 1200 block of Brynell Court Northeast.  One of the victims was Dantzler's daughter, another was his ex-girlfriend, the Press reported.
The suspect led officers on a chase that tore through the city's downtown.
At one point, the suspect crossed a wide grassy median on the interstate and drove the wrong way down the highway while more than a dozen squad cars pursued him. The highway remained closed hours later.
Witnesses told NBC station WOOD of Grand Rapids that shots were fired from the vehicle at police during the chase.
Two other people were hit, but their wounds were not considered life-threatening. Some of the gunshots struck the windshield of a police cruiser in downtown Grand Rapids. No officers were hurt, Belk said.
The suspect abandoned his car on I-96 and ran into the woods near Soft Water Lake and Rickman Avenue, then broke into the home.
'Domestic issues' A friend told reporters that the killings stemmed "from domestic issues" and a neighbor said Dantzler had recently separated from his wife.
The home where Dantzler was believed to have taken hostages is a short distance from the Brynell Court house, where the four bodies where found earlier Thursday.
Lisa Schenden lives with her husband and their children two blocks from that home. Schenden said the homeowners are a couple whose daughter has a daughter with the suspect.
Schenden said she did not hear the shooting but did see the suspect and his daughter drive up to the house earlier in the day.
"Just last night, my kids went over there swimming, and I went over with them," she said.
Sandra Powney lives across the street from one of the homes where the shootings happened and said she had seen Dantzler at the ranch house, where a couple had lived for more than 20 years with two adult daughters.
Powney said she had been at home all day and did not realize anyone had been killed until police converged on the cul-de-sac in the midafternoon.
"For a while we couldn't come outside," she said. "They didn't know if there was someone still inside the house."
A few miles away, neighbors said police converged on Dantzler's home after the shootings.
Chelsea Snoderly told the Press that Dantzler was "really quiet, down-to-earth.” 
Image: Grand Rapids police response
Cory Morse  /  AP
Grand Rapids police investigate the scene on Knapp Street on Thursday.
She said he walked his dog and was fond of his pet.
She told the reporter that the suspect had separated from his wife and saddened by the recent developments.
“I really didn’t want to push it,” Snoderly told the newspaper.
Sonia Bergers said Dantzler lived in the home with a woman she assumed was his wife and their daughter, a girl who appeared to be about 10 years old.
"We've talked with the person they assumed did the shootings," Mary Lahuis said. "You would see him going up and down the street — and you'd hear him going up and down the street."

State Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said records show Dantzler was discharged from the prison system in 2005 after serving time for assault less than murder. He has not been under state supervision since then, Marlan said.
WZZM reported that Dantzler has an extensive criminal record, also including misdemeanor assault and battery, domestic violence and breaking and entering.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


  1. I think we were writing about this at the same time. Thanks for your more thorough coverage.

    You know, the thing that kills me is the gun-rights fanatics want to make it easier to get guns.

  2. I suspect the deck was stacked against him for his life to have this track record. I'm not saying he's a victim. But, yeah, he probably was victimized on some level by our society, he's a black man in Michigan. Not a lot of opportunity but a lot of hopelessness, rage and desperation to go around. Of course, this doesn't excuse anything, just a commentary on how the ills of our culture eventually end in tragedy, one way or another.

  3. Oakley Sunglasses, I think you expressed that exactly right. Thanks for the comment.