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Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

Police: Man killed before he could testify in Detroit freeway shooting

By John Counts


Investigators from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office work at the scene of a fatal shooting in the 600 block of Calder Avenue early Wednesday morning.

Courtney Sacco |

Brandon Wesley Charles, 28, was scheduled to testify in a Wayne County court this morning, hours after he was found shot dead in his car in Ypsilanti Township.

Charles, of Ypsilanti Township, was involved in a road rage incident on Interstate 94 in Detroit on New Year's Day, Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police confirmed.


Crime scene tape hangs from a fence in the 600 block of Calder Avenue after 28-year-old Brandon Wesley Charles was killed there Tuesday night.

In that shooting, Charles was shot once and a woman in the passenger seat of Charles' car was shot nine times. She also was scheduled to testify.

Shaw said authorities are not sure if the two shootings are related, but they are investigating the matter.

Charles and the woman, who police believe was his girlfriend, were leaving the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit around 3:10 a.m. on Jan. 1 when they were involved in a car accident with a Ford Expedition, Shaw said.

Two suspects in the Expedition followed Charles and the woman, who were in a Land Rover, down the Lodge Freeway and then on to I-94. The shooting took place on I-94 near Junction in Detroit.

"They pulled alongside and opened fire on the vehicle," Shaw said.


Brandon Wesley Charles

Courtesy of WCSO

Police arrested and charged two men in what police have said was a "road rage" shooting: 30-year-old Willie Lee Wimberly, of Trenton, and 33-year-old Steve DeShawn Smith-Rush, of Inkster.

Both men were out on bond, Shaw said. Initial reports indicate Wimberly was released Jan. 21 on $250,000 cash bond and Smith-Rush was released Jan. 8 on 10 percent of $10,000 bond, according to the Wayne County Jail.

Charles was treated and released from the hospital on Jan. 1. The woman, who police are not identifying, was shot nine times. Shaw said the woman's injuries were "non-lethal" and she was eventually released from the hospital.

Shaw said the state police investigation into the road rage shooting led them to Wimberly and Smith-Rush, who were arrested without incident after warrants were filed.

Both Charles and the woman were set to appear in the 36th District Court in Wayne County Wednesday morning for Wimberly and Smith-Rush's preliminary examination, Shaw said.

"(Charles) was one of the victims, so he would have had to testify at some point," Shaw said.

The examination was adjourned due to Charles being fatally shot in Ypsilanti Township Tuesday night, Shaw said.

Charles was found dead around 10 p.m. Tuesday night in the driver's seat of his vehicle, a Ford sedan, which was parked at a residence in the 600 block of Calder Avenue, police said.

He was shot in the torso area, said Derrick Jackson of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office.

Police received multiple 911 calls reporting the gunshots around 9:45 p.m., including a call from inside the home. Jackson said Charles was at the house visiting a friend.

Residents in the West Willow neighborhood report hearing multiple gunshots Tuesday night before seeing a steady stream of police vehicles pour into the neighborhood.

"I heard the shots about 10 after 10 (p.m.)," said Vince Anderson, who lives on Calder. He added he heard about five or six shots.

Keisha Washington, who lives on Calder with her mother, said she heard Charles yelling for help.

"We were concerned," she said. "The whole neighborhood was. It's a little too close to home." intern Kody Klein contributed to this report.

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



Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 7 p.m.

Umm if u aint from ann arbor or ypsilanti....or if u didnt even know This man ...mind yo got damn business.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

Who set the bond for Wimberly?

Robert Granville

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Maybe higher bond should've been required? Mine was $50,000 (No 10%) in Ohio for a pot charge. How does one receive a bond of $10,000 (10% permitted) for opening fire on someone in the same country as one can receive 50k for pot.

John Counts

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Smith-Rush, who had the 10 percent of $10,000 bond, was only charged with accessory to a felony. He is not charged with shooting.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Ironic.... because AA news just had a story not too long ago about West Willow being safer due to survellance cameras... PS: to the against firearms folk, i bet the suspects are previous felons (so not allowed to have a gun in the first place) so how would this be preventable from a gun purchasing transaction stand point??


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

The camera's would not have prevented this crime. From the pictures, it appears Mr. Charles was murdered in a driveway area. But, for the criminal(s), the cameras probably captured a picture of the vehicle(s) rode into and out of West Willow. That should help local law enforcement with solving this crime, in this case.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Mr. Counts, this salacious, speculative, inflammatory article is junior-high journalism at its worst. I expect better from If you don't know the fundamental tenets of a journalist's integrity, go back to college.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Several topics worth consideration here: 1. Why are the jails so full these guys were turned out on bail??? 2. Police can not protect you as a person, their job is to "protect society". They can not promise to be anywhere at the moment of need. That is why you need to be aware and protective of yourself and those you care about. Police are great, but they can not promise any protection at the moment of need. 3. While not proved that these two were the cause of the shooting, looks likely enough - perhaps their bail should be canceled? 4. Detroit has the reputation it has earned over a long period as a murder capital. Perhaps its citizens who want nobody else with any say whatsoever in the running of the city should reconsider.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:19 a.m.

the police didn't show up till 10 minutes afterwards


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:17 a.m.

he did not die quickly at all and I know this because it was close to home.

Bill Fear

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:37 a.m.

Isn't it ironic that armed criminals know the MGM Grand and all casinos in Michigan are "Gun Free Zones." A current law bans law abiding Michigan citizens, who possess "right to carry permits" to carry concealed firearms in the parking facilities that service the casinos. Unsubstantiated reports, I have received, say there have been an enormous amount of armed robberies in the casinos parking lots. This incident sounds like a robbery gone wrong. The alleged criminals probably attempted a bump and rob scenario when their Ford Expedition bumped the Land Rover driven by Mr. Brandon Charles, and when this tactic was unsuccessful the Suspects opened fire of the fleeing casino guests. Well this is what happens when Guns are Outlawed - Only the Outlaws will have guns. If this bothers you, Please contact your legislatures in Lansing and encourage them to vote for increased flexibility for Michigan residence, with licensed concealed carry permits-and training, to carry concealed firearms – in current restricted sites - in order to deter crime. Secondly, the courts set the bond for Willie Lee Wimberly, of Trenton, at $250,000.00 cash. Sounds to me he is a "Bad Dude." Probable Felon committing a felony with a unregistered firearm. So my question is : why doesn't the courts enforce the existing firearms on the books ?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:44 a.m.

Well, I have a good feeling who the shooters are, if the police need some help let me know.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

From actual experience: real world witness protection amounts to being told that you'd better change your habits and appearance and abandon places you usually frequent. Except in extreme, high profile cases, that's the norm. If the witness chooses to ignore this advice (often given by police detectives), there's a real good chance they'll end up like Mr. Charles. Also from direct experience: it does no good to apply for a Michigan CPL AFTER the threat has appeared: the whole process takes up to 2 months.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

Good advice Tru2Blu. Sad to read what happened to Mr. Charles and condolences to his family and friends but "laying low" until the trial in this case, might have been a really good idea.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

This is a good example, of what gun right advocates preach. Two clowns empty their guns on the interstate, without just cause, and the judicial system is not bright enough, to set a bail high enough to keep them off the streets. Meanwhile, a man in Florida with a broken nose (and no criminal record) and a carry permit, sits in a jail cell for months, awaiting trial ( don't rip me on this, I don't know what happened down in FLA). Any discharge of a weapon should be taken seriously enough, to not allow the shooter out into society, until motive, and legality of the discharge is determined. Like they say, "Enforce the laws on the books." John, I would love to know the name of the idiot, in the robe, who set these guys back out on the streets.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

I just can't believe how many readers have concluded that this guy was killed to prevent his testimony. Thank goodness you all are not in law enforcement! This victim has a seedy enough story of his own to easily imagine other reasons someone might off him.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

What did the victim do that WCSO provided a mug shot?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

It's not necessarily a mugshot... it is just a standard booking photo of a subject who was being processed after an arrest. Unless the general public can go to a police station/jail and get their picture taken in front of the booking backdrop, I'd say this is a mugshot.

John Counts

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

It's not necessarily a mugshot. It's a photo provided by the WCSO of the victim.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

It is possible this is a coincidence. There have been other shootings in this West Willow neighborhood in the past.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

There are shootings everyday in the United States of America Nunya. Is that a "coincidence" to this crime too?

Keisha Washington

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

If you are going to quote me, please get the statement right. I never said the victim was yelling for help.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

Thank you, Ms. Washington! Really, as one who's been erroneously quoted by "journalists" a few times, I find it very annoying and influences the way readers think of me (or you). I'm glad you spoke up.

Honest Abe

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.



Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

How about, "Brandon Wesley Charles, 28, was found shot dead in his car in Ypsilanti Township this morning, just hours before he was scheduled to testify in a Wayne County court"?

John Counts

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Charles was found dead in the car around 10 p.m. the night before.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

I can't wait to hear the anti-gun crowd start calling for disarming all lawful citizens as a solution.... or at least a start, right??? (tongue & cheek)


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

I think someone already started that a few comments back.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Wow...this guy is either the most unlucky guy in the world when it comes to getting shot in his car ...Or... The shootings are related.

james Kurtz

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

typical Detroit murder; don't ask, dont tell


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Find out what judge approved their bonds....then go take a look at EVERYTHING that judge has done in the past year. I have a feeling you'll discover tons of questionable actions....


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

Billy, I agree with you on one thing. After being charged with shooting nearly 17 bullets into vehicle on I-94 less than one month ago, it would seem neither one of the "suspects" needed to be out on bond. Doesn't an attempt murder criminal statue exist on our law enforcement books in Michigan? Also, doesn't a charge of attempt murder would either set a high bond (no 10%) or no bond at all? I don't know for sure but, it would seem like it.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Do you have something for us in this matter or are you simply speculating?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

My question of the day...why after "allegedly" spraying a car down with bullets, are they free on bond?!?!? This type of offender should be held until the outcome of their trial. Oh...right...give em a chance, they're just misunderstood...the gun did the deed...fuzzy logic is too fuzzy for me!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:38 a.m.

they did make bad chose, which turned them rotten to the point where, the bad chose turn into evil deeds.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

They just made "bad choices".


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10 p.m.

they are misunderstood but they did a bad thing , they misunderstood as we get their logic ;)


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Well it looks like we got motive now.....


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

Method, motive AND opportunity!! ;-)

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

John: Can you advise if either or any of these gentlemen had CCW permits? Could you also determine if any of them are / were felons? I have my suspicions as to both questions.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

@Kyle, I realize that. I am just saying that there are specific prohibitions with a CPL. For instance, ANY alcohol violation will cause a suspension of your CPL. I am just wondering if there is a similar provision while being charged with a crime.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

@Chase. CPL is a "license." CCW is a "felony."


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

Kyle, a quick search of the Wayne County courts pulic records ( shows that Wimberly is no stranger to the detroit criminal courts. In fact, he was found not guilty of murder almost 10 yrs ago by a jury among many other charges (many firearms). It looks like he is a felon since at one point he was charged with "weapons possession by a felon". You can also see the judge that allowed a felon charged with a very violent crime post bond. The problem is the Wayne County courts plea so much down as Wayne County doesn't have the space or money to house these criminals. I hope the police are protecting the women that was shot during the first incident.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

"I don't have any guns, because I am a convicted felon. But Mrs Liddy has an amazing collection!" - G. Gordon Liddy.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

Chase - A quick check of OTIS does not turn up results for either man. HB11- If convicted of a felony, it is illegal to possess a firearm.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

I believe being arrested nullifies a CPL. Please, someone correct me if I am wrong.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

I would say, based on what they "allegedly" did, they were not law abiding, CPL holders. Beyond that, if they did what they "allegedly" did, they most definitley are felons.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

"Both men were out on bond, Shaw said. Initial reports indicate Wimberly was released Jan. 21 on $250,000 cash bond and Smith-Rush was released Jan. 8 on 10 percent of $10,000 bond, according to the Wayne County Jail." This after allegedly shooting 10 rounds into two people over a road rage incident. Only by the grace of God did they survive.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

Hi all, obviously this is a developing story and there is still much more to come regarding both cases. John and crew are working to get you as much information as possible, with that in mind let's hold off on speculating statements or accusations until we have a better picture of the situation. If anyone does have information the would like to share regarding this case please call our news desk at: 734-623-2530


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

Unfortunately, I don't have direct information but do want to give Ann high remarks for adding how West Willow Residents who heard the shots, immediately contacted law enforcement. Also, from the story, it could appear that neither one of the "possible" suspects in this crime live in West Willow. Crime coming into this area (West Willow/Ypsilanti Township) from suspects living in elsewhere, has become a too frequent occurrence. Although there can be no guarantee actions such as this horrible crime will not happen again in the future, one area I hope local law enforcement targets in the future are individuals' who bring a criminal element and in this case murder, into our Township and neighborhoods.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

Hence why some of the comments that were posted earlier have stood to this point belboz. We acknowledge there was some form of connection due to the fact that Charles was to be in court today; however that doesn't mean we should jump much further at this time until more is known and police have completed their investigation.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Your story starts with an implicit implication that the two incidents are connected by specifically writing about the first shooting. If the only story is about the murder, and people shouldn't be speculating, then leave it out of the story.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:47 p.m. not ask us to hold off on speculating statements WHEN YOU POST A NEWS STORY..... That is ENTIRELY our prerogative...if you do not wish comments then do NOT post a story.... I can understand why there is such draconian moderation on this site when the "writers" have the audacity to think like this...


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Are Wimberly and Smith-Rush still out on bail? Are their locations known or have they fled? If the police had enough evidence against the two to obtain a warrant why were they not charged with attempted murder and not allowed bail? Mr. Charles would be alive today if Wimberly and Smith-Rush remained incarcerated. If I were Charles family I would sue court for judiciary malfeasance.

music to my ear

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

now that I read stories like this, it is not worth my life .I will be monkey no see ,monkey no do. no wonder some people turn their heads. and yes I know it is not right, but look where it got that 28 year old man ,He had his whole life ahead of him. may he R.I.P but now the shooters are relieve , wonder if they can use his previous statement,


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

You do not need Matlock to figure this case out. The witness has been sadly silenced forever in this case. And yes, his murderis connected to the court case.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

@simone66. Detectives do not make snap judgments, thankfully.

Richard Carter

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

Please, if you have proof of this, come forward to the police!


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Let's hope you share your information with the authorities.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

if... "...authorities are not sure if the two shootings are related..." why mention the accident story in such detail?

Aces Full

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

Perhaps such generous bonds shouldn't be given after someone puts ten bullets into someone. Just sayin'.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

A $250K bond would cost you $25K Cash. Most young people don't have that kind of money hanging around. What is unclear is whether the victim did a hit-and-run, or did he get out of car and exchange ID with the other driver. Also, if the other driver is a suspect in the killing, how would he know the victim was visiting a friend in WW?

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

Aces Full - I was quite shocked to see that someone posted a $250,000 cash bond. That's not usually a generous bond, at least as far as I know.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Great Job protecting witnesses here.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

There is enough edgy stuff about this victim to say that there is EVERY possibility that these two shootings are UNRELATED. Hours to go, so what. YOU DON'T KNOW that this was the suppression of a material witness.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

I agree they should've had some kind of protection. Unfortunately, that's usually only the case in a federal trial


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

"Who is supposed to protect the witnesses?" The court system could/should have, you have someone who shoots another person 9 times with eyewitnesses and he gets out on bail. Shoot someone 9 times and you shouldn't have a bond!


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

You have a responsibility to your own self-protection. The Supreme court of the united states has affirmed more than once that police have no duty to protect you or anyone else from harm.

Mr. Ed

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Who is supposed to protect the witnesses?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Shooting someone NINE times over road rage? And probably killing the guy because he was going to testify against them? What is this world coming to?

music to my ear

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

or going to Down THE DRAIN .PERIOD


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

its been like since rise of mafia in 1920's


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Looks like we're trying to head in the direction of keeping arms in the hab=nds of criminals and disarming the general publc. That's what this world is coming to. The police can only investigate the incident after the fact, they cannot be there to protect us.................

Cory C

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

:facepalm: Do people realize that killing a witness doesn't work like in the movies?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

Yes but the police ALSO don't work like in the movies. There is no guarantee they will figure out who off'ed the witness (unlike in the movies).


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

it only works in the mafia....


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Nope. A Hollywood response is SOP in situations like this.