Westland church pastor where barricaded gunman shot at police shares his story
WESTLAND, Mich. (FOX 2) - A robbery suspect eluded police in Detroit and Dearborn - and things came to a head in Westland - when he was confronted again by police Friday.
This time the suspect opened fire on them while barricaded inside a church. Police took him into custody -- but it caused quite the scare for the community - and a local pastor.
Pastor Mike had just let a stranger use the bathroom at his church while doing some painting at Palmer Road Baptist Church at 2:30 p.m.
"I was standing right here he said, 'Sir you doing some work on the building?' And I said yeah," said Pastor Mike.
At that point the pastor says he saw some movement behind him.
"When I turned, I saw this patrol car, this SUV right up here," he said.
The officer was yelling.
"'He said 'Stop right there and drop your gun.' I was not expecting that," Mike said. "He started reaching into his waistband, trying to pull something out. And at that point I thought to myself I’m right in the line of fire."
But the suspect went back inside the church and Pastor Mike started walking as fast as he could. He stopping only to tell a neighbor to go inside her home.
At that point the police had the church surrounded.
While not divulging a lot of details, investigators say the suspect is known to law enforcement.
The gunman was spotted at a gas station several miles away in southwest Detroit hours earlier and police tried to pull him over, more than once,
They finally caught up to him at the church on Palmer Road in Westland.
"He ended up firing gunshots from upstairs windows at the officers," said Cmdr. Michael McGinnis. "The individual struck two patrol cars with the gunfire.
"One of the rounds went through the Wayne County Sheriff's patrol car, it hit the hood and then ricocheted into the windshield."
At least one officer returned fire, but investigators say it does not appear any bullets actually hit the suspect.
FOX 2 viewer video shows him being arrested on the scene. After that, he was taken to an area hospital for an injury to his hand - possibly from broken glass.
"That was the furthest thing from my mind that something like this would happen," Pastor MIke said. "Because this young man did not act like he was in distress, he just approached me quite casually."
About to turn 71 next month, the pastor is still trying to fully grasp what happened.
"No one knows when we're gonna leave this earth, something could happen to me tomorrow," he said. "I don’t know, but I’m thankful that God was watching me today."