DETROIT (FOX 2) - Starex Smith was in the middle of his last food review in Detroit when the news broke: someone was randomly shooting people in the city.
"We were getting inboxes from our followers saying be careful, there’s an active shooter in the neighborhood you guys are at," he said.
The 19-year-old killed three people and injured a fourth before he was caught, the latest string of violence to hit the city during a period of tragic shootings. Soon after the shootings, as the city reeled and the families mourned, Smith decided he wouldn't feel comfortable not doing something.
If Starex Smith isn't a familiar name, that's probably because he goes by another title: The Hungry Black Man. A popular food critic who travels the country reviewing local eateries that are owned by Black men and women.
In his seven years as a critic, he's managed to make it out to Detroit. During the city's renaissance in the shadow of its bankruptcy he got a taste of some cuisine he knew he couldn't find anywhere else.
"You have so many smaller eateries that are doing foods that are within the Black American culinary food pathway," Smith said. "You have different versions of soul food. You can have like nine different types of catfish. You can have 10 different types of mac & cheese all within the City of Detroit," he said. "So usually when we go to other towns, you find a consistency in the way someone makes their fried chicken or mac & cheese.
"In Detroit – that’s not the case."
During filming for his most recent review, he heard about the recent tragedy.
The gunman, later identified as Dontae Smith, is charged with several felonies, including murder and animal cruelty. The victims that died from their gunshots were Chayne Lee, 28 Lari Brisco, 43 and a mother of five, and a 16-year-old woman who wasn't initially identified when she was found.
Smith wants to honor the victims with a slice of what he's done in Miami, where he lives.
Starex Smith, AKA The Hungry Black Man
"So in Miami, we do a day of compassion where we take restaurants, we unite them with cooks, and trap kitchens where people who cook from their homes, bakers, chefs and they get together, they prepare amazing food, and then they sell it to the public," he said.
"These were innocent bystanders. People who were just living their lives and that could have been any of us. And I think when you are not able to empathize at a level where you feel compelled to do something, that’s the moment that society starts unraveling, and I do not want to part of the unraveling of our society. I just want to be a small component of healing our society. That’s the motivation behind this entire event."
The event, We Are Detroit Strong, will happen Sunday at the Horatio Williams Foundation from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. More information is on the flyer below: