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Posted on Thu, May 16, 2013 : 9:40 a.m.

Police: Man in wheelchair fired off three rifle rounds from Ypsilanti balcony

By John Counts


Courtesy of YPD

A 70-year-old man will face charges for discharging a firearm within city limits after firing off three rounds from the balcony of his Ypsilanti apartment Wednesday night, police said.

Police were called to his residence at a senior citizen high-rise in the 400 block of West Michigan Avenue at 11:58 p.m. after receiving reports of gunshots.

Investigators determined the man was showing off a recently purchased rifle for his 49-year-old son, said Ypsilanti police Sgt. Thomas Eberts.

The 70-year-old told police he had fired the gun off into the sky. Police found three spent shell casings on the balcony, Eberts said.

The man, who is in a wheelchair, was not arrested.

"Because of his health issues, he was not taken into custody," Eberts said.

However, a warrant will be submitted charging the man with firing off the gun in city limits, which is a violation of a city ordinance, Eberts said.

Police discovered the man's 49-year-old son was wanted on multiple warrants. He was arrested and taken to jail.

Police took the rifle.

"We’ve got it in safe keeping,” Eberts said.

This story has been corrected. The incident occurred Wednesday night.
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John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, May 17, 2013 : 7:19 a.m.

Good parenting there!


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.

It must have been a pea shooter because i live a block and a away and didn't hear a thing even with my windows open.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Hilarious story!


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Wheel chair or not the man should have been put in jail.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

I'm curious why it was necessary to indicate the man was a wheel chair user in the headline or at all for that matter.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

It was an essential fact in explaining why he was not arrested and taken into custody.

a2 Brute?

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Was it a semi-automatic or fully automatic rifle? Was it an assault rifle? Did it have a large capacity magazine? How big was the magazine?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

Aren't you just so cute!


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

It's not pretty when "law abiding gun owners excercising their second amendment rights" go bad!

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

He wasn't law abiding.

Samuel Burns

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Ricebrnr, this is not persecution. The city ordinance against discharging a firearm within city limits is a completely reasonable restriction designed to protect the right of innocent members of the community to live without being shot by random bullets. If this is persecution, then prosecuting someone for drinking and driving is persecution. Firing a gun is legal, drinking alcohol is legal, driving a car is legal. Firing a gun within the city isn't, drinking and driving at the same time isn't.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

so yes let's persecute them now just to be safe. Wait til some yahoo extrapolates that to something you own or do that is legal. Pre-crime anyone?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

Just wondering why the son didn't stop him after the first shot? Did they both think no one would call the police. And if this is the senior housing complex I think it is the shots probably could be heard at the Ypsi Police station.

Lake Trout

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

My guess is neither of them botherd to "think" at all. Article says senior housing and if it is the one I think it is, located right across the road from the station...

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

How do they know it was the Grandfather and not the son? I doubt they did the test for gun powder residue, and it sounds like they are just taking the Grandfathers word. If the son did it, he would likely be judged very harshly in court with his reported warrants. But the Grandfather will likely get a slap on the wrist due to his age, etc.

Lake Trout

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

If you had read the article, you would know the 70 year old is the FATHER, but you are correct that it could have been either of them that shot the gun.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Missing from this account is the caliber of the weapon.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Was it a Hi-point Carbine (rifle). LOL

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Thanks John.

John Counts

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Police said it was a 9 mm rifle.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Lake Trout, you're wrong. Rifles are illegal for hunting deer in lower michigan during deer hunting season. You can lawfully use a rifle for target practice, or for hunting other animals during other hunting seasons.

Jim H

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

Caliber would be informative. Lake Trout, it is not illegal to discharge rifles in southern Michigan. Most municipalities have restrictions, but most areas are rural.

Lake Trout

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

The article says the firearm was a rifle - which are illegal to discharge in southern Michigan no matter what the caliber is.

Lake Trout

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Definately reckless and a very poor example of gun ownership. For those talking trajectories - I very much doubt he was pointing the gun "straight" up so the chances of someone or something getting hit by the stray bullets is certainly possible, and they can travel amazingly long distances and still do damage. Example: many years ago a local farmer was hit in the head by a "stray" .22 bullet. Not only were the authorities not able to determine where it came from, the gentleman still has it in his head as it was more dangerous for him to have it removed than leave it. What was even more astounding is he was working in a field on a tractor - what are the odds of that one?

Ann English

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

Imagine what would have happened if a bald eagle fell onto that balcony from the bullets! It's spring, so the birds are back. I don't know about birds being pests to the farmers around here when it comes to corn crops, but blackbirds have been pests to the Dakotas' corn crops, so farmers shot them dead.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Many, many farmers work their fields with tractors. Not astounding at all.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

agreed! and from a balcony of that large apartment complex? There are any number of balconies right above him.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Probably about the same as winning the jackpot in the Powerball


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

that can be read different ways , about the gun purchase. He was showing off for his son, the gun he purchased. OR.. He was showing off the gun he had purchased for his son..

Ann English

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

I asked that below. Which verb (showing off, or purchased) is the word "FOR" modifying? I personally think it modifies showing off; you're not as likely to show off using something you purchased for someone else as you would show off using something you had purchased for yourself. That was my original understanding of the article as a whole.

Local Yocal

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

showing off a ( recently purchased ) rifle for his 49-year-old son,


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

"The 70-year-old told police he had fired the gun off into the sky." What goes up MUST come down. I hate people who do this kind of irresponsible thing. It shows a distinct lack of considering the consequences of one's actions. This is someone that really does NOT think about others. In a word....this is RECKLESS. Please charge him. You don't have to throw the book at him...but he NEEDS to be charged. This wasn't some petty or minor thing he did....he did something that is responsible for multiple deaths annually across the globe.. I realize that statistically it's a very small chance....but when it's from a purely IRRESPONSIBLE act (let alone illegal) that makes it beyond wrong.

Ann English

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Zhuk, That brings to mind something else about spring: with the leaves growing back, there's a much better chance of unseen targets from bullets; the foliage hides where the bullets go. Blimps and hot air balloons could be hit, too. They don't get launched in the winter.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

Billy, I read the myth buster thing and I also read a dozen other things on bullets shot up in the sky.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Craig...even a slight angle will result in an imense amount of power being kept as the bullet will still travel on a parabola. The apex has to be EXTREMELY acute for it to do what zhuk claims it does. As I said...mythbusters specifically tackled this...

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

One doesn't need to fire the bullet straight up for Zhuk's point to be valid. Think in terms of a punted football versus a thrown football or a fly ball to a catcher versus a lazy fly ball to the outfield. At some point the only velocity it has any more is gravity.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

"Guns (rifles) fired straight up are not a much of a problem... read a physics book." You couldn't be more wrong. Mythbusters specifically tackled this even. It's near impossible to fire a bullet straight up so that it tumbles back down. If you fire "straight up" without precise instruments you're actually firing at an angle, and thus the bullet will arc in a parabola anyway.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Guns (rifles) fired straight up are not a much of a problem... read a physics book. Guns (Rifles) fired at an angle close to but above an angle parallel to the ground are a serious problem because the bullet will still have lots of energy when it hits something. The only way a bullet fired straight up would be a big problem is if you happened to be flying (as a bird or as a really low flying plane) and are struck by it (or if it was a 1oz shotgun slug). When a bullet is fired straight up, it uses all of its velocity as it goes up and hits its apex. Once it starts coming back down, it is not traveling faster than the speed of sound any more, it is only traveling at terminal velocity (at best). Most people who are shot by guns fired "in the air" are actually shot by guns that are fired in a very low trajectory where the target is out of the line of sight. THat being said, I am glad they took the gun away from that guy and arrested his son.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

So a law abiding father bought a gun for his felonious son that had multiple warrants? Another smart gun owner I see...

Local Yocal

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

showing off a (recently purchased ) rifle for his 49-year-old son,


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

It reads exactly as it should. You're reading it wrong.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

"Investigators determined the man was showing off a recently purchased rifle for his 49-year-old son, said Ypsilanti police Sgt. Thomas Eberts. " Purchased rifle for his 49 year old son, makes it sound like he...purchased it for his 49 year old son

John Counts

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

The father did not buy the rifle for his son. As indicated in the story, the 70-year-old man bought the gun for himself and was showing his son how it worked.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

To be fair the article doesn't specify if they were felony warrants or not. They could have been warrants for traffic violations or some other minor thing that just got ignored and turned into a warrant.

Bertha Venation

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Thursday? Is that tonight, or last Thursday night?

John Counts

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

This has been corrected. It was Wednesday night.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.



Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.