A few updates from Detroit: Arson, bankruptcy, mob beatings and guns

Taking Back The City: Arsonists Will Be Aggressively Prosecuted In Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ) – Arson investigators in Detroit are issuing a strict warning to criminals in the area: If you torch a home in the Motor City, you will end up behind bars.

Arson Chief Charles Simms told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell more than half of the city’s 8,000 fires a year are intentionally set — and it’s something they are no longer going to tolerate.

“It’s common in Detroit. People think that they can set their houses on fire, or cars, for insurance purposes,” Simms said. “I want people to know that if you come into Detroit and you try to set a fire for insurance purposes, for fraud, for revenge, whatever the motive may be, that we will find you and we will prosecute to the full extent of the law.”

Simms said arson in the city is getting out of control and is even turning into a family affair. Recently, a mother and her two children were convicted on arson and fraud charges for burning down their home on Devonshire in 2013.

“The night of the fire, the dwelling was actually set on fire twice. So, it sounds like the first time it didn’t work so they came back and tried to set it for the second time,” Simms said. ”To me, that shows a relentless effort to try to defraud the insurance companies and just a disregard for our fire fighters in the city of Detroit. We’ve actually lost fire fighters because of this, for vacant structures that people set on fire for fraudulent reasons.”


Detroit Gets Approval To Use $120 Million Loan For Police, Fire

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Bankrupt Detroit has been given approval to move forward with a $120 million quality of life loan to help improve city services.

Federal Judge Steven Rhodes on Wednesday approved the loan brokered with Barclays. He says Detroit can use the money to meet the needs of people living in the city.

Brad Erens, an attorney representing Detroit, says the city needs to hire more police and fire fighters, repair public safety vehicles, build new precincts and repair firehouses. About $35 million will go to remove blighted homes. The city has filed a list of projects that require $179 million in funding.

“Detroit retirees have objected to the loan, noting that none of the money was earmarked for pensions,” reported WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “But the judge said the city is in urgent need to start repairing the city.”


Crowd severely beats pick-up driver who stopped after hitting boy, 11

A motorist is in critical condition after being beaten by a large group of people on the city’s east side after his truck struck an 11-year-old boy today, Detroit police said.

“He got his,” said one witness to the beating who declined to give her name. “He got beat up real bad.”

Sgt. Michael Woody said officers believe the driver pulled over to check on the child after he was hit around 4:10 p.m. He was then assaulted by people in the neighborhood near Morang and Balfour streets.

“Our chief indicated there was a large group of approximately 30 or more people,” Woody said. “But that’s not to say they all took part in the assault, but they did come out to assist the child, and it was a large group at that time. They could have been from that large group.”

No additional information was available about the child’s condition, but Woody said he was transported to St. John Hospital.

Woody said the driver sustained multiple, serious head injuries and was also transported to St. John.

“He could potentially die,” Woody said.


Detroit police warn against leaving guns in cars

DETROIT — Police are warning people to leave guns at home instead of in vehicles parked in downtown Detroit when they attend events such as Tigers games.

The Detroit News reports (http://bit.ly/1gR8HGu ) the renewed warning comes amid worries by police that guns will be stolen. Police Sgt. Michael Woody says officials don’t have an exact number of downtown gun thefts, but said the issue has “popped up on our radar.”

Last year, police said guns left in vehicles in downtown Detroit in part because weapons aren’t allowed in nightclubs, the stadium for the Detroit Lions and other venues were being targeted by thieves. Tighter security at Tigers games prompted the fresh warning.

This season, Tigers fans pass through metal detectors while entering Comerica Park, part of the new set of security measures.


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