Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Gunman robs girl, 14

by Brad Lindberg

September 20, 2012

CITY OF GROSSE POINTE — The normal rite of passage for Grosse Pointe teens doesn’t include being robbed at gunpoint on the sidewalk a couple blocks from home.

Yet, at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, an unknown male with a pistol chucked a 14-year-old City girl to the ground at Lakeland and Charlevoix and took off with her cell phone.

He ran north on Lakeland toward Mack and Detroit, pointing his weapon at other residents.

The girl’s screams and the prospect of gunplay generated numerous 911 calls.

“There was a lot of yelling,” said Stephen Poloni, City chief.

Public safety officers from all the other Pointe departments and Harper Woods converged on the neighborhood.

With sidearms cradled and shotguns drawn, they set up a perimeter. Working in pairs, they searched yard-by-yard. A Shores patrolman stood shotgun near apartments on Mack.

“Officers were unable to locate the subject,” Poloni said.

Police described the man as black and in his mid-20s. He’s about 6 feet tall and weighs between 230 and 250 pounds. He wore black pants and a black hooded shirt.

The victim was attacked in the company of her 11-year-old sister.

“The subject produced a small handgun, tussled with the girls, pushed one to the ground and took her phone,” Poloni said.

“It’s sad, desperate times we live in when someone feels they have to rob a 14-year-old and 11-year-old at the barrel of a gun,” said the girls’ father.

The incident happened when City police were stretched thin.

“We had two officers in Grosse Pointe Park transporting a prisoner,” Poloni said. “We had another officer on an ambulance run. We had two officers at Beaumont Hospital (Grosse Pointe) with victims of a crime.”

One patrolman was pulled from the ambulance run.

“Our first officer didn’t make the actual scene,” Poloni said. “He looked for the suspect, who had gone down Lakeland. The Farms made the scene.”

Many patrolmen finished searching when City Sgt. Michael Almeranti and the department’s tracking dog, Raleigh, arrived from off duty.

“They called me at home,” Almeranti said. “They said a guy robbed someone on University and pointed a handgun at a lady and someone walking their dog on Lakeland.”

He and Raleigh circled the block, rechecking bushes and yards past 1 p.m.

Isolated clumps of residents stood in front of houses watching and talking. Others, buttoned inside their houses, looked from behind closed doors and picture windows.

“A trail could not be traced,” said one of the first officers at the scene. “The track was tainted.”

“All Raleigh was tracking were all the cops,” Almeranti said.

“The City and all the communities need to take a hard look at public safety if they want to continue to make this a nice place to live and expect people to want to live here,” said the victims’ father.

“Safety and security are first and foremost,” said Councilman Chris Boettcher. “All decisions we make surround that.”

Rumors that citizens weren’t warned of an earlier street crime that morning aren’t true, Poloni said.

“There were no other incidents,” he said.