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Posted on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Afraid for his life, Pittsfield Township man pulled gun, killed acquaintance

By Kyle Feldscher


Pittsfield Township police respond to the initial report of a shooting at Adham Farha's home on Dec. 2, 2009.

Editor's note: Information about the Offender Tracking Information System has been clarified in this article.

The morning of Dec. 2, 2009, seemed like any other at the Farha family home in a middle-class Pittsfield Township subdivision.

Adham Farha went outside to smoke a cigarette. His son watched Spongebob Squarepants on TV while his wife searched for a hat for the then-Lawton Elementary School student to wear. Even though it had been a relatively mild autumn, the temperature had cooled as December rolled in and, if the boy was going to stand at the nearby bus stop, he needed a hat.

Minutes later, as children waited at the school bus stop across the street, the quiet neighborhood was shattered by gunshots. Farha had jumped out of his Nissan Armada, parked in the driveway of his home and — as the children watched — fired numerous shots inside, killing Michael Rajchel, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.

Farha told police it was self-defense. He said he had a bad feeling when Rajchel showed up uninvited in his driveway and thought the man “looked like a killer.”

Justifiable homicide series

The accompanying story is part of a larger, in depth look by MLive Media Group, of which is part of, at the use of deadly force in self-defense in Michigan. You can read other stories in the series at the “Justified to Kill” blog.

The two men had gotten inside Farha's SUV to talk. When Rajchel reached for the gun tucked inside his waist band, Farha did not hesitate to fire, according to a police report obtained by

Farha described the incident in an interview with Pittsfield Township police Detective Lt. Sean McCormick.

“While Mike was leaning backward (in the passenger seat) he stated that, ‘This is your last day to live,’” McCormick wrote in the police report. “Farha stated he did not know how many times he shot Mike but that he feared for his life.” revisited this case, one of two shootings ruled to be justifiable homicides by civilians in Washtenaw County since 2000, as a part of MLive Media Group’s statewide look at justifiable homicides. Three other Washtenaw County killings -- all involving law enforcement officers -- were ruled justifiable homicides by prosecutors during that same time frame, according to prosecutors and Michigan State Police data.

Farha did not respond to a request for comment for this story. spoke to Janusz Rajchel, Michael Rajchel’s father, and he said his family is still very hurt by the incident. However, Janusz Rajchel did not wish to speak further about his son’s death.

Pittsfield Township Public Safety Director Matt Harshberger directed all questions about the case to the police report.

According to township records, Farha no longer owns the home on Rockport Court.

The two men

The relationship between Farha and Rajchel was complicated and unclear — they were alternately said to be good friends with a business relationship and sometimes acquaintances who had been out of touch for years before that morning.

Farha owned One Stop Collision in Garden City and Rajchel listed the body shop as his place of employment and Farha as his supervisor on a previous apartment application, according to the report.

Relations between the two men soured when Rajchel’s apartment in Detroit was broken into, according to Abdul Ghdier Elkhoja, a friend of the two men. Elkhoja told police Rajchel blamed him and Farha for the break-in, even though Rajchel later apologized.

Farha has no records listed on the state of Michigan's Offender Tracking Information System, which shows information about offenders who have been under the jurisdiction or supervision of the Michigan Department of Corrections within the last three years.

Scott Mayol, Rajchel’s friend since his days at Belleville High School, told police the break-in occurred when Rajchel was in jail following an arrest. Mayol said no one other than Farha knew Rajchel had been arrested.

Multiple people interviewed by police said Rajchel confronted Farha about the break-in, about a year before the fatal shooting. During that confrontation, Farha allegedly pulled a gun on Rajchel, but didn’t use it.

“Rajchel told Farha that the next time he pulls a gun on him that he better use it,” the police report stated.

Rajchel’s ex-girlfriend Shelley Berrien told police Farha had made sexual advances toward her and Rajchel consistently loaned him money, according to the police report. Multiple witnesses alleged Rajchel was involved in fraudulent activities involving selling and reselling cars, the report revealed.

Marta Rajchel, the victim’s sister, said her brother spoke about people owing him money. “She said her brother mentioned that people owed his business money,” the report stated, “but he never specifically stated who owed him money, how much and for what.”

But in his interview with McCormick, Farha said he hadn’t seen Rajchel in three years and had no idea why he would be at his Pittsfield Township house. Farha was getting ready for work — he couldn’t find the keys to his business and was ready to enjoy a morning cup of coffee and a cigarette.

The morning in question

Susan Hernandez was passing out literature with some of her fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses at a Mobil gas station at Ecorse and Haggerty Roads in Wayne County's Van Buren Township on Dec. 2, 2009. She approached two men who appeared to know each other, through they were in separate cars, and produced a copy of the magazine The Watchtower.

One of the men walked away and went inside the convenience store, but the other started talking to her, Hernandez told police.

She asked the man who stayed if he was interested in reading the magazine and engaged him in conversation. The man, who called himself Mike, suddenly told Hernandez he was on his way to kill a man.

“Mike said, ‘Actually I am on my way to kill a man, should I stop?’ Hernandez indicated she replied, ‘Don’t you think a decision like that belongs to God?’” the report states. “Mike responded, ‘Well, I don’t have God in my life.’”

The man gave Hernandez about $10 for the magazine and told her to keep the change as a donation. According to the report, she saw him reading it a little while later.

Hernandez told police the car had a large sticker in the back window and a “Victory Toyota” license plate holder; those same items were on the car Rajchel drove to Farha’s house that morning, according to the report.

The confrontation

Farha told police he found Rajchel standing in his driveway when he went outside for a cigarette. Rajchel told him to get in Farha's SUV and, even though he had a bad feeling about doing so, Farha complied. He asked Rajchel to let him go back inside and get the keys to his business, but Rajchel wouldn’t let him go.

Farha told police he saw Rajchel lean back in the seat and his right hand began to reach down to his waistband. When Rajchel started to pull out a Norinco semi-automatic pistol, Farha said, he jumped out of the vehicle and pulled out his own gun, according to the report.

Children at the nearby bus stop said they saw Farha fire a handgun, for which he had a concealed weapons permit, into the car. One of the children, confused by what happened, told police he thought Farha had a bug problem in the vehicle.

“He thought the man was shooting at bugs in his car … he thought bugs may have gotten into the man’s car and that he was shooting at the bugs,” the report stated.

Rajchel died in the passenger seat of the car. He was 28.

The children scattered, running into the cars of their parents who were nearby or some simply fleeing home, according to the report. Some made it to school that day, some didn’t; one boy’s mother told police her child had been so bothered by what he saw that he was vomiting, according to the report.

Farha had his son dial 911 and reported the shooting to dispatchers, according to the report. He was arrested in front of his home and taken to the Pittsfield Township police station before being lodged at the Washtenaw County Jail, the report stated.

Rajchel’s car was still running when police arrived on scene. McCormick noted in the police report that an issue of The Watchtower was on the front seat of the Toyota Camry.

The Decision

Washtenaw County prosecutors examined all of this evidence, and more, after police submitted their investigative findings on March 15, 2010. On March 31, 2010, the prosecutor's office announced no criminal charges would be brought against Farha.

Toxicology reports showed Rajchel had a blood alcohol level of .12, above the .08 limit at which a person can be arrested for drunken driving. He also had prescription medication in his system.

Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller said at the time that there was not enough evidence to show Farha didn’t act in self-defense.

Hiller said earlier this month that the burden is on the defendant to bring proof of self-defense forward. At that point, prosecutors would have to not only prove the defendant committed the crime in question but also wasn’t acting in self-defense.

Hiller said there are no specific criteria that have to be met to prove self-defense. In cases such as Rajchel’s death, every single angle has to be investigated to get a complete picture of the case, he said.

Hiller declined to discuss specifics about the Rajchel case, but said all homicide cases are different.

“These are grave cases. By definition, someone has lost their life,” he said. “But, by definition, there are a whole group of people who have been through a traumatic event. … These are very serious cases and it’s incumbent on us to be careful that every reasonable avenue of investigation is pursued as fully as we can.”

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



Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 5:21 a.m.

maybe i missed something in the investigation part of this story. but does anyone find it odd the farha went out to smoke a cigarette at 8 am with a loaded gun? who does that? maybe someone who expected a violent visitor??? just wondering. I don't smoke, so maybe it's a smoking thing....


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

I was wondering the same thing Boo


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:26 a.m.

Thousands of CPL holders strap on their guns daily as part of simply getting dressed. Not because we expect a violent encounter but we are prepared for one just the same. Would buckling your seat belt mean you expect or intend to have an accident? Do you have fire extinuishers and smoke alarms because you intend or expect to have a fire? No and the connection you made is as ridiculous


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

There is simply no connection between having a gun, and using it to kill someone, and not having a gun, and not using it to kill someone. Anyone who says so is a communist.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

So true. When they outlaw chainsaws, only criminals and lunatics will own chainsaws, which so clearly serve no useful purpose other than the production of bloody gore and sheer mayhem. Well, boffo box office for Hollywood, too, I guess.

Big Jake

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

I didn't realize we were supposed to pay for a copy of The Watchtower. I always thought it was free.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

One way or another, you will be paying for it.

Bob Sly

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

" revisited this case, one of two shootings ruled to be justifiable homicides by civilians in Washtenaw County since 2000, as a part of MLive Media Group's statewide look at justifiable homicides." In my opinion this "revisit" is to try to find information to oppose the Michigan "Stand your ground" law.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 8:37 a.m.

Very good observation. Notice this was right after the Trayvon Martin shooting when they decided to "revisit" this case that happened almost 4 years prior.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Even though some hours have passed since the original posting, there has been only one skinback required so far, the spelling is largely correct and the grammar acceptable, and it appears written by a native speaker of English. While the story happened quite a while ago it does tell you that straight up. All in all, a better than average crime story, where responsibility for copy editing and fact checking so often falls to the reader.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

So, this is going on right now: But the lead story on is an interesting, but not exactly timely or "news," story about a decision not to press charges more than two years ago. Kyle, this is a good story, but it shouldn't be the headline one. What is up with your editorial priorities?

Use Logic

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

So did Ratchel have a valid Concealed Pistol License? If not, that's unlawful carry, which I believe is a felony. If he did have a valid CPL, he'd have known that the legal limit for alcohol while carrying is 0.02 BAC - meaning he was six times the legal limit, not counting the prescription drugs, Either way, Rajchel was consciously carrying illegally. That in itself proves that he had lethal intent.

Honest Abe

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Farha was in the right. I have a CCW as well. If someone puts me, my family or someone else in danger - I am shooting. The old saying goes "better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by 6".


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

Thanks for the update. I have often wondered what happened with this case.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I'm just guessing but: it seems that is dutifully featuring only cases (from the blog) which happened in Washtenaw County. I think this is a bit confusing: the Mlive content is huge and covers many more aspects of self defense shooting (but itself is not complete). I mean: online - I first learned of the whole series through the print editions over the past few days. It was only today that I found the link to the online complete series. When it comes to my efforts to follow this series the term, "labyrinthine," comes to mind. ;-) So far, the series seems to be a good journalistic effort serving legitimate journalistic (informing the public ) purposes. I don't object to the rehashing of the Farah-Rajchel incident. It's necessary to have solid examples of self defense shootings and this was one of those. I do still think that and the other affiliates of should be publishing the whole series in both the online and print editions. That's called "complete reporting" after all.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

I'm glad Farha "stood his ground".


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

Just because the guy had a gun does nto make it self defense. If the Ted Nugent branch of the right wing party had their way everybody would be carrying guys, so if ANY person stepped on your property for ANY reason you could claim self defense. If the guy who KILLEd another person was so afraid, why didnt he call police? Oh thats right, he is judge, jury and executioneer.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

jj; My point wasn't about the guy in Fl., but the law in Fl. If it went down as you say, the law didn't apply and therefor would not need to be repealed. Sorry that was tough for you. Any questions?


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

jj45678...he was shot in the chest.Any questions ?


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

The difference is the other guy had a gun. In florida, an unarmed man was gunned down and shot int he back. Any questions?


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Chicken Man......


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

This is news?


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

Thank you for the update on the conclusion of this story.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

The more I read and hear about this, the more confused I am. At this point I'll pass on any future reading or attempt to make sense of this.

Blue Marker

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

I get the feeling there is more to the relationship between these two men than we'll ever know.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Mostly, I feel for those kids.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Why is this news today? Haven't both families been through enough without renewing the story?

Steve Pepple

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

The headline has been changed to past tense to avoid confusion about when the incident occurred.

Rugeirn Drienborough

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Here we have a life lost, a person forced to fight for his life, children exposed to an incident of deadly violence, and what are we commenting about? Grammar.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

Leezee, that is an extraordinarily silly statement. You clearly are not concerned about writing posts based on sound logic.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

The fact that no one cares about correct grammar, spelling or word usage pretty much means they don't care about anything, so, yeah, it is a big deal.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

And other people's comments on a blog.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

It is really a shame that these families had to be dragged into the media again after three years have past.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

. . . . have passed.

Perry White

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

"Hiller said there's no specific criteria that has to be met to prove self-defense." Criteria is the plural of criterion, so this should be "there are no criteria that have to be met."

Steve Pepple

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

Thanks for pointing out the grammatical error. It has been corrected.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

" revisited this case, one of two shootings ruled to be justifiable homicides by civilians in Washtenaw County since 2000, as a part of MLive Media Group's statewide look at justifiable homicides." But didn't have the will or resources to cover it completely after it happened and when the decision to call it justified was made. Either not enough of a budget or other priorities in the newsroom? And Fat Bill is correct about OTIS and that portion of the story should be corrected.

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

The OTIS information has been corrected. Here's a link to the article, also linked to in the story above, of March 2010 about the justifiable homicide ruling

Fat Bill

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:26 a.m.

Kyle, OTIS only shows people who are on parole or probation or incarcerated or otherwise have an active case with MDOC. It does not provide criminal history information.

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

That information has been corrected in the article. Thank you.