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Detroit Police officer, suspected shooter killed by gunfire

Russ McNamara

A shootout on Detroit's west side Wednesday evening left a Detroit Police officer and an alleged gunman dead.

Detroit Police Chief James White says officers were responding to a man with a semi-automatic firearm shooting indiscriminately near Joy Road and Hubbell Avenue. Detroit Police Officer Loren Courts, a five-year veteran of the department, was struck by gunfire and killed. Another officer shot and killed the alleged gunman.

"The officers arrived within minutes at 7:30 [p.m.] to the officer upon his arrival," White said, "immediately took fire from the subject who was armed with a Draco assault rifle. Sadly the officer was struck and succumbed to his injuries."

White says officers have faced too many shootings this year. The incident comes amid a recent string of mass shootings across the country, including on the Fourth of July when multiple people were killed and many others were wounded in Highland Park at a holiday parade.

“Regardless of where you stand, what side of the political aisle you’re on this issue of gun violence, it’s entirely too much gun violence in this city,” White says. “Too much gun violence in this country. And now we’ve got an officer who has paid the ultimate sacrifice, putting his life on the line for you and me.”

Violent crime in Detroit has ticked upwards over the past two years but is still at historical lows — especially when compared to the 1980s. According to police reports, Detroit has seen more than 380 non-fatal shootings so far this year and more than 120 homicides. Detroit police shot at suspects in seven incidents this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In May, two teenagers were charged with shooting at DPD officers from a moving car.

"I've got a family that's grieving. This did not have to happen. How do you tell a mom and a child what I just had to tell them? It's outrageous," White says.

Courts leaves behind a wife of 11 years and two children. "This man was so much more than a police officer," his wife, Kristine, posted on Facebook early Thursday. "He was an amazing dad, my best friend, and the man I married. All the news articles talk about is a DPD officer. He was so much more to me and the kids. Our Batman!"

"Officer Courts made the ultimate sacrifice for the city he set out to protect and serve, and we all are humbled by his bravery and heroism," Council President Mary Sheffield said in a statement. "Officer Courts, a legacy member of the Detroit Police Office and five-year veteran on the force, will be terribly missed by his fellow officers and the entire City of Detroit. At the appropriate time, we will formally honor his life and service to the residents of Detroit."

Russ McNamara is a reporter and host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners.