St. Clair Shores, MI – Macomb County Sheriff’s Office authorities have announced that St. Clair Shores police officers’ use of deadly force against Theoddeus "Theo" Gray was justified.
Gray, 29, was attending a baby shower for his first child on Nov. 4, when he got into an argument with his pregnant girlfriend’s family at the banquet hall where the celebration was being held, the Detroit Free Press reported.
According to investigators, Gray was agitated during the event, and expected that a fight or confrontation would take place, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Multiple party guests were also in possession of weapons.
“There was gonna be a shoot-out in St. Clair Shores that night,” Sheriff Wickersham said.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., a Lakeland Manor Banquet Hall staff member called police to report that there was a man with a rifle outside the building.
About 70 people were inside the banquet hall at the time.
“Upon officer arrival, a male matching this description was observed standing outside the banquet hall," the St. Clair Shores Police Department said in an initial news release, according to the Detroit Free Press. "The male ignored several demands from officers and attempted to flee the scene on foot."
St. Clair Shores Police K9 Axe began chasing after the suspect, who was later identified as Gray, Sheriff Wickersham explained.
Gray then pulled his FN57 5.7mm handgun from his waistband, and fired at the officers once.
The officers took cover and returned fire, hitting Gray as he continued to run, the sheriff said.
Police repeatedly ordered the suspect to drop his weapon, but he raised his gun to fire at the officers yet again, according to Sheriff Wickersham.
The officers fired their weapons at the suspect, who ultimately collapsed to the ground.
Gray was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, WXYZ reported.
According to Sheriff Wickersham, officers shot more than 47 times and the gunman was hit a total of six times in both thighs, the head, the left side of his back, the left arm, and the right foot, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Investigators later determined that Gray’s weapon jammed after he fired the initial shot.
"If the gun didn't jam, he had 20 more rounds to fire at law enforcement," said the sheriff, who noted that Gray’s gun was the same type of weapon the department’s SWAT team uses.
The handgun was found beneath Gray’s body, and a loaded AK-47 rifle was recovered near the banquet hall.
K9 Ace, who was also fatally struck by gunfire during the encounter, was ultimately located by a side door at Lakeland Manor, Sheriff Wickersham said.
He was rushed to an animal hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Sheriff Wickersham said it is unclear whose weapon fired the round that killed K9 Ace, and investigators are waiting for ballistic information from fragments removed from the canine’s leg and shoulder.
Vince Colella, an attorney who is representing Gray’s family, said he is looking forward to reviewing the case, and that he has “so many questions” regarding what occurred.
"They do not believe that their son was armed at the time of the shooting, and no forensics or ballistics have been released concerning the dog that would link a gun or a bullet to any weapon that may have been in possession of Theoddeus," Colella told WJBK.
Sheriff Wickersham said the department sent letters to Gray’s family in an attempt to speak with them about the investigation, but that they had not replied, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Colella disputed the sheriff’s claim, and said the family has “nothing further to add to the investigation.”
“The onus is on the department to take those witness statements,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “It's not up to the family to do the investigation for them."