You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Dec 2, 2009 : 6:38 p.m.

Victim identified in fatal shooting near Pittsfield Township bus stop

By Lee Higgins

Michael Robert Rajchel, 28, of Van Buren Township has been identified as the man fatally shot outside a Pittsfield Township home this morning as children were standing at a nearby bus stop, police said.

Police arrested 34-year-old Adham Mofiid Abu Farha at the scene of the 8:30 a.m. shooting on Rockport Court, but he's unlikely to be arraigned on charges until Friday.

Rajchel was found dead in the passenger seat of a sport utility vehicle parked in Farha's driveway. He was shot multiple times, but police would not be more specific about his injuries. The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet conducted an autopsy, officials said.

Farha lives at the home, police said, and had a gun tucked in his waistband when he was apprehended there. He was one of several people to call 911 and walked out of the house when police arrived, investigators said.

Farha's wife and children were inside at the time of the shooting, said Matt Harshberger, the township's public safety director.

Police are not releasing details on what may have led up to the shooting and would not say whether the victim had a weapon. The victim was not targeted at random, police said.

"We're exploring all the angles," Harshberger said.

Police also would not disclose what Farha said during his 911 call.

The victim's family members could not immediately be reached for comment tonight.

Jerylyn Holyszko was at her home in the Arbor Creek subdivision this morning when her 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter rushed inside.

"They just came running home and said there was shooting at the bus stop," she said.

About 20 children were at the bus stop near the intersection of Rockport Court and Cook Creek Drive when multiple shots were fired in a nearby driveway, a witness said.

It was the township's first homicide this year.

The witness, who would not agree to be identified because she fears for her safety, said she heard six gunshots.

She was parked in a sport utility vehicle at the intersection of Rockport Court and Cook Creek Drive as the kindergarten through 5th-grade students were waiting for the bus to take them to Lawton Elementary School. Her two boys were in the group.

The woman said she waited for the bus to arrive when a small gray car pulled up in front of a house directly across the street. A young man in his 20s got out, she said.

"It was weird because (the car) was still running," she said.

He walked up to the house, and another man walked out of the garage. They shook hands and were standing in the driveway, she said. The garage door went down. She looked away for a moment.

"All of the sudden I heard two shots," she said. "And I turned and I looked and I saw the man who came out of the house and he was pointing the gun."

The man was pointing the gun at the driver's side of a sport utility vehicle parked in the driveway, she said. The driver's side door was open. She heard four more shots.

Several children ran. She called 911.

"I yelled at my kids to get in the car," she said.

The shooter put a gun "into his pants" and casually walked around to the passenger side of the car, she said. He then walked up to the porch.

"As I was on 911, someone came onto our call, another operator and said, 'I have the shooter on the phone and he just shot somebody, and they're dead," she said.

The woman, concerned for the safety of other children, did not leave the bus stop until all of the children got onto the bus, she said.

Holyszko said it's a safe neighborhood.

"We all know each other for the most part. All the kids play together. You just don't believe that could happen."

The case will be forwarded to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's office tomorrow for review for possible criminal charges.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Todd Roberts said counselors were made available to speak to the students.

Of the students at the bus stop, some reported seeing the gun being fired, while others said they heard gunshots, according to district spokeswoman Liz Margolis.

A social worker met with those students, Margolis said. Families of all Lawton Elementary and Slauson Middle School students are being contacted about the incident, school officials said.

Buses did not drop off students this afternoon near the home where the shooting occurred to allow police to continue their investigation, officials said.

It's not the first time Farha, the alleged shooter, has been in the news lately.

In an unrelated incident, he made headlines last month when found a baby girl alive in a dumpster outside One Stop Collision Shop, his family's towing company on Middlebelt Road in Garden City.

Farha was getting ready to take out the garbage Nov. 20 when four young girls came into the store and said they heard a noise coming from the dumpster, WXYZ television reported.

"So we walked over there and searched the dumpster and found a baby in a bag, wrapped up," he told the station. "We ripped the bag open, there was a cord hanging out, and the baby was crying. We picked her up, took her inside the shop, and waited for police to arrive." The baby survived. The Farha family had no comment on the shooting when reached by this morning.

The Detroit News reported tonight that the baby's mother, 22-year-old Desiree Walker of Garden City, was arraigned on attempted murder and child abandonment and abuse charges.


Paul the Malcontent

Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 6:21 p.m.

From Merriam-Webster Online ( Victim, noun, one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent. Regardless of the motivation behind the shooting, Mr. Rajchel clearly fits the definition of "victim." Whether you feel he was an "innocent" or "deserving" victim is your prerogative; based on subsequent updates, it appears likely that self-defense was the reason for the shooting, and that Mr. Farha was at least a potential victim.


Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 11:53 a.m.

Lee Higgins and should not attempt to identify who the 'victim' is until the case is resolved. What if this is a case of self defense, where the real 'victim' is the home owner? How about getting the facts before putting a spin on it?