Suspected shooter in Dearborn hotel standoff in custody; 1 dead, the police say

Dearborn – Police took a suspected gunman into custody Thursday night after a standoff at a hotel in which the suspect allegedly opened fire after a dispute with staff, killing a man, a hotel employee.

The arrest of the 38-year-old suspect came after a nearly seven-hour standoff at the Hampton Inn hotel in downtown Dearborn.

“There was some kind of disagreement with hotel staff … it was about money,” Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin said of the incident at the Michigan Avenue hotel. Shahin noted that the victim was a 55-year-old hotel clerk from Riverview who was “just trying to do his job.”

“We spent the last seven hours negotiating with a person armed with a rifle … Many times threatening officers and it was pretty tenuous. But luckily we were able to resolve it peacefully.”

Shahin said the suspect had a history of mental illness and substance abuse. During his nearly nine-month tenure as police chief, the chief noted that “too often we run into situations with people suffering from mental illness armed with firearms, and the outcomes are often tragic. There’s a broader problem here.”

The Dearborn police chief had previously called the standoff “a waiting game.” The officers negotiated with the suspected shooter, who had barricaded himself on the third floor of the hotel, for hours, police said. Moments before the suspect was taken into custody, authorities had broken out a third-floor window.

Cpl. Dan Bartok, the public information officer for the Dearborn Police Department, said police responded to a call about shots fired at 1:09 p.m. Thursday. The shooting took place from the third floor, Bartok said. Police described the weapon used in the shooting as a long gun, but did not immediately release information about the suspect.

During the standoff, Michigan State Police and Dearborn police warned people to stay away from the active shooter scene.

“This is a dangerous situation, this individual is still prone to shooting at people walking in this area,” MSP Lt. Michael Shaw said. “So I can’t say it enough. This is not a safe area, don’t come down to downtown Dearborn.”

Warnings did not deter the many people who turned up to watch the activity. Soon, what started as a lively gathering of people staring at the mass of police along Michigan Avenue turned somber as more police vehicles and personnel gathered as the standoff intensified.

Pedestrians in a busy shopping center across the street from the Hampton Inn were initially directed away from the inn as police yelled, “Get out of the line of fire!”

‘I’m afraid of my community’

Sarah Azaz was at work at the Cosmo salon on Michigan Avenue, interviewing a candidate for a job, when she saw 30 police cars drive by. She ran to make sure her mother, Sue Azaz, at Biggby was okay. Sue Azaz owns the coffee shop across the street from the hotel.

“I’m not scared, but I’m scared for my community,” Sue Azaz said.

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Hian Beydoun, 20, lives near the Hampton Inn. “It’s kind of scary to think that something this bad could happen so close to home, especially when you’re supposed to feel safe,” Beydoun said.

Kamal Mustafa, 55, lives a few blocks from the scene but was in east Dearborn when he heard police were responding to a shooting. His son attends Dearborn High School, about a mile away from the Hampton Inn.

“The first thing that came to my mind is somebody shooting up the school. So I just flew over here,” he said.

Mustafa said the students were sent home for the day.

Bobak Dehkordi, a manager at Athletico’s in Michigan, said he closed the offices after clients canceled when the shooting shut down. He allowed SWAT team members and other authorities access to his restrooms during the standoff.

Dehkordi said he hasn’t seen anything this unusual in Dearborn.

“Not in this area. Not like this,” he said.

He said he served in the Iranian army: “So I’m used to fighting.”

cramirez@detroitnews.comhmackay@detroitnews.com

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