Michigan State Police robots play key role in barricaded gunman standoff

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A 14-hour standoff. Investigators were not about to put any other officers into harm's way - and that's when they sent in the robots.

Michigan State Police responded to a barricaded gunman on Detroit's east side. In the end, Lance Smith killed three women and injured three police officers before turning the gun on himself.

Hours later, a bomb squad robot determined the standoff was over.

"The robots were able to tell us the suspect was down inside the house," said Lt. Michael Shaw, state police. "And we were also able to locate the female victim inside."

Investigators used three robots during the stand-off rather than risk the lives of officers, knowing the gunman was not afraid to shoot.

The one robot at the very end, Wolverine, is able to get into second floor window where we can discover where people are at," Shaw said. "We rather go that route than send actual people in there. That's how those robots are deployed."

That robot extended to break the window to see inside the second story of the house. Last year Michigan State Police demonstrated how the robots work for FOX 2's Ron Savage. 

"There's four cameras on the robot," Sgt. Ashland Bray said at the time. "The robot has the ability to go up and down the stairs like a human does. We can open doors, open cars, we can drag people. Also we can use this robot for HAZMAT situations and we can also use it for communication during a barricaded gunman or hostage type situation."

It was precisely the situation officers encountered on Monday is a situation with too many lives lost already.

"No matter what eventually human beings are going to have to step into that house," Shaw said. "But we want to make it safe as possible for those officers before they go in there."