Recent spate of shootings in Ypsilanti Township linked to feud between two groups, sheriff says
Washtenaw County sheriff's investigators say a series of recent non-fatal shootings in the area — primarily in Ypsilanti Township — appear to be linked to a feud between two groups of people.
Sheriff Jerry Clayton said the county has seen an escalation in violence over the last 30 to 45 days, and an even sharper rise in the last three weeks.
Investigators have information detailing several possible sources of the feud, including a dispute over a girl, Clayton said. Sheriff’s officials declined to comment on how many people are involved with the two groups, but said the violence isn’t considered gang-related.
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Clayton said investigators have interviewed most of the victims, but said they have largely been uncooperative.
“We have been and continue to reach out to community members and are asking anyone who has knowledge of any of these crimes to come forward and report this information to the Sheriff’s Office,” Clayton said. “Witness information will go a long way in assisting us with bring this violence to an end.”
Clayton declined to say what other types of violence are related to the feud, beyond the shootings. Clayton said the Sheriff’s Department has “marshaled significant resources to address this issue, including the use of resources outside of the Sheriff’s Office itself.”
No one has been fatally shot so far, and the two groups appear to be targeting one another, police said.
Among the recent incidents:
- Jan. 10: Gunmen fired multiple shots into a vehicle in a parking lot in in the 1000 block of Share Avenue in Ypsilanti Township and fled before police arrived.
- Jan. 9: Two adults and four children escaped serious injury after two armed men kicked down the door to their Ypsilanti Township home and fired five shots as one of the adults attempted to escape from the rear of the home with the children.
- Jan. 7: Two men suffered non life-threatening injuries after being shot near a convenience store in the 2000 block of South Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township.
- Jan. 5: Two students — an Eastern Michigan University student and Washtenaw Community College student — suffered non life-threatening injuries after being shot during a fight on Briardale Court in Ypsilanti Township.
- Jan. 1: Shots were fired at an occupied home in the 500 block of East Grand Boulevard in Ypsilanti Township.
- Dec. 29: A woman suffered a gunshot wound to the arm when someone fired shots in the 600 block of Villa Drive in Ypsilanti Township.
Angela Barbash, head of the New West Willow Neighborhood Association, said her neighbors have seen other acts of violence in the past two months.
Most recently, a neighbor reported seeing a man beaten in the street by a group of people who pulled up in a van, Barbash said. But she said the victims and witnesses were afraid to call the police.
Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker said three separate shootings that occurred between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 in Ypsilanti appear to be unrelated to the feud in Ypsilanti Township.
In Ypsilanti, a man was allegedly shot outside the Tap Room bar; a man’s head was grazed with a bullet near Michigan Avenue and Hawkins Street; and residents awoke to the sound of stray bullets breaking their windows on Davis Street. Police said that shooting likely resulted from bullets fired during some type of chase through backyards in the area.
Both Clayton and Walker sent notices this week to neighborhood associations and other groups updating them on the shootings and their investigations.
A shooting also occurred in Pittsfield Township during the same general timeframe. A 20-year-old man was shot in the leg Jan. 4 during a dispute in the parking lot of the Glencoe Hills apartment complex, police said. That incident is not believed to be related to the others, police said.
Detectives have found no correlation between the three shootings in Ypsilanti or the cases in Ypsilanti Township, Walker said. She added investigators are uncertain whether two of the shootings reported between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 actually occurred in the city. The victims have been uncooperative and changed their stories several times, Walker said. No arrests have been made.
Barbash said the violence has West Willow residents nervous. The neighborhood association runs a citizen’s patrol and is meeting with a Sheriff’s Department lieutenant for more information next week.
“We’ve never had a spate of shootings like this — one right after another after another,” she said. “It’s kind of gotten everyone on edge.”
In one recent incident, a stray bullet flew through a resident’s kitchen window.
“It doesn’t mater how much information you have or how much patrolling you do, you can’t protect your family against that,” she said.
Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2530.