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Posted on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Former Huron High School classmate of man shot dead after police chase: 'He was just a normal kid'

By John Counts


Eighteen-year-old Gabe Stevenson drove this pickup truck into a house before being shot dead by police Tuesday morning.

John Counts |


Gabriel Stevenson

Huron High School 2011 yearbook

He was a doctor's son and a basketball player at Huron High School.

He was known for being quiet and withdrawn.

How 18-year-old Gabriel "Gabe" Stevenson ended up as an arson suspect shot dead by a Michigan State Police trooper early Tuesday morning after a car chase is a mystery to people who knew him.

“This incident really doesn’t describe the person (Stevenson was)," said Lee Arthur, Stevenson's freshman basketball coach at Huron. "He was not a vicious person. I was very surprised to hear about what happened.”

Arthur said Stevenson played basketball his freshman and sophomore years, but then quit sports altogether. Arthur sensed a change in the young man.

"I think he had some problems," Arthur said. "... Something else took over. He battled personal demons."

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Working with school officials, Stevenson's family sought to get him help, Arthur added. While he attended Huron and was supposed to graduate in 2012, Stevenson did not complete high school, said Liz Margolis, spokeswoman of Ann Arbor Public Schools.

“He had fantastic parents,” Arthur said. “They were hurting for a long time. I know they’re just tore up about this.”

A man who answered the phone at the Pittsfield Township home where Stevenson's family lives would not identify himself beyond being a "representative of the family." He told this is a very hard time for the family and that they don't want to comment.

"It's an ongoing investigation," the man said.

Stevenson's death also came as a surprise to his former basketball teammate, Jeff Hugan.

“Gabe was a cool, mellow kind of guy,” he said. “He didn’t talk much. He was just a normal kid. He didn't cause any trouble."

Ethan Hines, another former teammate of Stevenson, said former classmates he's spoken with about the incident were "shocked."

“The whole time I knew him, I would have never expected anything like this,” Hines said. “He was always a good kid."

A Michigan State Police trooper shot and killed Stevension early Tuesday morning after he charged officers while wielding a knife, police said. The shooting came after Stevenson led officers on a two-county chase, they said.

Around 2 a.m. Tuesday, Northville Township officers were called to investigate an unoccupied vehicle on Napier Road north of Six Mile Road, according to police. Eighteen minutes later, an explosion was reported in the same area. Officers responding to that call saw the vehicle leaving the area.

Police conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle on Six Mile Road, and Stevenson, who was driving, fired shots at police before fleeing west on Six Mile in the truck. Eventually, Stevenson lost control of the car and crashed into a home in the 7900 block of Dixboro Road, where Six Mile takes a jog to the north before continuing on west.

Stevenson attempted to break into the home by breaking a window, but was confronted by Northville Township, Michigan State Police and other police personnel. Police said he advanced toward officers and lunged with a knife. A Michigan State Police trooper fired one shot and killed Stevenson.

The trooper is still on administrative leave pending a standard state police investigation, Lt. Michael McCormick said Wednesday. Investigations of this type generally take about two or three weeks, he added.

Meanwhile, Northville Township police are continuing to investigate the explosion that set in motion the events that led to Stevenson's death.

The township's Director of Public Safety, John Werth, did not return phone calls Wednesday.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


shane derossett

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I dont think it was necessary to shot to kill, how about tazer or wound if its just a knife he is charging with. He was 18 come on now!

ms 2013

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.


Beth Mayhand

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

No one chooses to be mentally ill. It is difficult for both patient and their families. Once he or she is 18 yrs old, parents have zero rights to access medical records unless permission is given by the 18 yr, old or they are awarded guardianship by a court of law. Beg and plead as they may, their child can legally refuse care, medication, etc as an adult......whether we agree with them or not. The truth is that a person doesn't always willingly accept and/or realize that they need help and/or how to access it. Family and friends usually try so hard to get help for their loved ones knowing that something is wrong. It seems they only get attention after the fact when folks are quick to judge and persecute, though they have not walked in their shoes. Wondering if this is the case?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

The reason why people are assuming it was drugs/mental illness is because those of him around him noticed a huge change in his personality; it could have been anything.

Beth Mayhand

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

I don't know if this young man had mental illness. I am simply explaining that if this is the case, things are never just black and white..........right and wrong. Something happened that clearly wasn't going right on this particular night and since we don't know for sure, I don't think it is fair to assume he didn't get adequate parenting or that his parents didn't try and help him as has been suggested a couple of times in earlier comments. None of us know what we are capable of in desperation. Right or wrong, our mind and heart can make us do things we could never imagine. It is easy to say what we would do, but we truly don't know. This is not an excuse, just a fact. We just don't know what this young man was going through.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

sd2man, why do you assume people are making excuses. People are trying to understand because an 18-year old just lost his life after a traffic stop led to a chase. There are many more 18-year olds in the area, understanding can prevent this from happening again. Subtances or mental illness limits the ability to process. Have you ever had too much alcohol and "don't remember" what you did? It was funny at the time but, if you did something wrong, should people then throw you under the jail as a villain?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Beth. As a professional in the specialty, I completely agree with your post. The abundance of drugs in Ann Arbor easily accessed by our teens is shocking. Our adult citizens go about their doings ignoring this fact! Many of our teens present as if someone had opened their skull and scoured out their brains with a Brillo pad. The Solution? At this time it is: Throw Them in Jail.

Stuart Brown

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:58 a.m.

I don't believe the police claim that the suspect brandished a knife, justifying the use of lethal force. The fact the suspect is black explains a lot. Whether anyone agrees with this analysis or not, how things look is disturbing. The police have been revising their story too many times. Given the experience nationwide when a black person is killed by police, the odds are very high a whitewash will be conducted and the police exonerated.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:59 a.m.

The police version of events is that he fired at the police to flee only to draw a knife when confronted by police; if it was a case of suicide by cop, yes, otherwise no. Something smells here; people should not be so quick to just accept what the police say happened.

Steven Taylor

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

So, lets say the deceased DID have a knife. Was he gonna use it to tickle the officers he shot at while fleeing? There's a saying.. "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight" for a reason.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:40 a.m.

I'm sorry but this kind of behavior doesn't happen over night. I am sorry for their loss but something doesn't add up here.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Normal people don't go after State Troopers with a knife. Lest see some recent pictures of this "kid" not his junior high school picture.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

If you look you will see the picture says 2011 Huron High school. That's his junior year picture given he was supposed to graduate in 2012. Also, normal people do abnormal things under the wrong influence, whether that be alcohol, drugs or people. It's easy to judge but how many can say they did not act in an abnormal way EVER. Bottom line is this young man is now dead and a state trooper has to live with the fact that he pulled the trigger, after bean bags rounds failed to stop him, the accident failed to stop him. Bean bag rounds are meant to subdue people so if they didn't stop him, there was probably a substance involved that amplified adrenaline. Substance abuse is nothing to joke or play with.

Susie Q

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

From the comments and the quotes in the article, it appears that this might possibly be another instance where mental health care could have made a difference. The difficulty of accessing this care is a huge roadblock in preventing things like this. God bless Gabe's family and give them peace. My thoughts and prayers are also with the law enforcement involved.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

It is amazing that whenever somebody does something wrong or commits a crime, the offender always has "mental health issues" I believe that there are cases in which mental health is an issue, but nowadays that explanation is WAY overused. Nobody is responsible for their actions anymore.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Any word of where he got the gun? With all the talk of gun control I'd think we'd be more concerned of whether or not current gun laws are being inforced. For the record an 18 y/o can't own a hand gun.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

That's not correct. One must be 21 to legally purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer (FFL). An 18 year old can legally purchase a handgun from a private seller in the state of Michigan. Private sales of handguns in Michigan require a license to purchase issued by a law enforcement agency.

martini man

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

What a sad and tragic end for a man so young in years. But "Just a normal kid " ??? Naw ..I don't think so.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

Nobody really knows what happened here, but I know this: law enforcement trains to shoot people, and shoot people they do. Just ask those folks in California, how many shots were fired at people who had nothing to do with the situation?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

Yes, vote me down, because they didn't shoot this guy? And the police in California didn't shoot at people who weren't involved? I didn't say disarm the cops, although that wouldn't be the worst thing. I am wondering how someone with a knife gets shot? How about taking a few steps back? Maybe he would have been better off huddled in a doorway? Wait, that doesn't work... Just for yucks, try searching for "unarmed shot by police" and let me know how safe that makes you feel.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:58 a.m.

OK, let's even the playing field and disarm all cops. That way, only the criminals will have guns.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

I am so sorry and sad to read this, my heart and prayers go out to the family members as they endure life without their child. There is nothing any worse.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

A doctorate degree is not requited to be a good parent. "Kids are expensive" But what do the children really need from their Mom and dad? 1. endless, no conditional love. 2. time.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

UtrespassM: actually you're wrong. You simply cannot say "most problem kids" are abused and misunderstood.. I must ask you to cite your source because in over 10 years working with the chronically and persistently mentally ill I have not experienced what you are attempting to describe with any real consistency.Yes the role of the parents is instrumental to the development of children, yet to make a statement like parents are too busy with affairs and divorces is, quite frankly, a gross exaggeration and simply unfair. Unless you know this family personally (which it doesn't not appear you do) you simply have no idea the relationship that existed between this young man and his parents. I would also challenge your statement that public schools are only "great" for the easy kids. I sincerely do not understand what you mean. "Great" and "easy kids" need some kind of definition here.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

Sandra Samons, If you had worked in mental health field, you would know those "problem kids" are often abused or misunderstood. Our public school systems are only great for easy kids. Our parents are always life long busy on their jobs, affairs, divorce..... "love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."---Corinthians 13:13(4-8)

Sandra Samons

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Are you suggesting that if parents provide these things their children will not have problems? If so, you have not worked in the mental health field, or you would know that is clearly not the case, so I would urge you to avoid being too judgmental. Blaming parents who are already grieving is cruel. Many years ago a man named Bruno Bettelheim wrote a book entitled Love Is Not Enough, and while I do not agree with every point of his philosophy, he illustrates the long standing recognition that children can have mental health problems no matter how much they are loved.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

That is why if you can't afford children (this family could), don't have them. They eventually become somebody else's problem.

Sandra Samons

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Since I do not know the details of this case, I can only speak in generalities, but the lack of options for mental health interventions and the difficulty of accessing them is a deplorable problem for anyone seeking help for a loved one. The HIPAA laws, while mostly good, majorly limit a family member's ability to be involved in the treatment of a person who has mental health problems, especially when the person refuses permission. A person cannot be hospitalized unless they are an imminent threat of suicide or homicide, and it is relatively easy for a savvy person to simply deny that they have such feelings. Even so, 2 weeks is pretty close to the longest inpatient treatment available. Our jails have become the "long term treatment" facilities, but only after a crime has been committed. And this is 2013!

Sandra Samons

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Since I do not know the details of this case, I can only speak in generalities, but the lack of options for mental health interventions and the difficulty of accessing them is a deplorable problem for anyone seeking help for a loved one. The HIPAA laws, while mostly good, majorly limit a family member's ability to be involved in the treatment of a person who has mental health problems, especially when the person refuses permission. A person cannot be hospitalized unless they are an imminent threat of suicide or homicide, and it is relatively easy for a savvy person to simply deny that they have such feelings. Even so, 2 weeks is pretty close to the longest inpatient treatment available. Our jails have become the "long term treatment" facilities, but only after a crime has been committed. And this is 2013!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

My condolences to the family of this young man. The officer who had to take his life is also offered our sincere sympathy. There is no reasonable explanation for how this had to come about. Mental health issues are just an awful and terrible thing to suffer for all who knew and loved this poor youth.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

There again lies mental health issues and weapons. Something really needs to be done to avoid tragedies like this.

Roy Munson

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Glad to hear that the officer was not injured in this very dangerous situation.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:11 a.m.

Mr Munson - There are no physical injuries, but no officer ever pulls a gun and does not think back on that incident. Worse is having to fire the gun and even worse is to have to fire at someone. Finally there is using deadly force. That officer will never ever forget this, most leave the police force within a few years of this happening. There are injuries to the officer, the family in the house that was run into and the family and friends of the young man who died. Those will take far longer to heal - if they ever do - than physical injuries.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

What kind of commentors vote this post down?

Roy Munson

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

And also no injuries to innocent bystanders through this two county chase.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

This poor police officer will never forget Gabriel's face. Prayers for the family's and all who are involved.

John Counts

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

I am continuing to try and learn more about him. If you did know him, I encourage you to email me at or call me at 734-623-2564. I'm also hopeful Northville Township police will eventually release more information about the events leading up to the chase, about how Stevenson came to be in that area with a gun and knife and about the explosion. I believe it might help provide a little more understanding about this incident.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

John, thanks for trying. I know a lot of us want to know more about how this could have happened.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

I am sorry for the kid and that it got this far, but I am also sorry for the State Trooper - I can understand that this can happen after shoots are fired, fleeing from the police, having a knife etc.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

My heart breaks for the Stevenson family; to lose a child so young, after what sounds like years of personal struggle, is unimaginable. My thoughts also go out to the officers involved. There is no way they could know the personal background of this young man, and it once again illustrates the layered complexities of their heroic line of work. It is my sincere hope that everyone reading about this tragic event will keep the pain experienced by all involved in mind.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:06 p.m.

Thank you for your compassionate comment.