Grand Rapids Shooting: Michigan Gunman Kills 7 Before Committing Suicide

Rodrick Shonte Dantzler shoots dead his own daughter before killing himself after hostage standoff in Grand Rapids.

Police close off a section of downtown Grand Rapids, at the intersection of Division Street and Fulton Street, after a pedestrian was allegedly struck by a suspect running from the police Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Photo: Ryan M.L. Young/The Grand Rapids

A gunman opened fire in two Michigan homes Thursday, killing seven people, including two children, before leading police on a high-speed chase through downtown Grand Rapids and taking three hostages. The standoff ended when he killed himself with a gunshot to the head, authorities in Grand Rapids said.

The hostages were released unharmed. Authorities did not have a motive for the suspect, though Belk said that Dantzler had a “prior relationship” with at least one person at each home where the victims were killed. Police said Dantzler’s daughter and a former girlfriend were among the seven people killed, but that it had been some time since he had a relationship with his ex-girlfriend.

The manhunt for Dantzler began after four people were found dead in one home and three were discovered in another across town.  Following the discovery of the bodies, Dantzler led officers on a chase. City police, Kent County deputies and Michigan State Police in squad cars and a helicopter followed Dantzler, who caused a crash at Fulton and Division in downtown Grand Rapids.

Then the gunman took the hostages. Dozens of officers with guns drawn cordoned off a neighborhood near a small lake in the northern part of the city. One hostage, a 53-year-old woman, was released. Two other hostages had remained in the home. Later Rodrick Dantzler shot himself inside a home where he had been holding the hostages.

Dantzler was released from state prison in 2005 after serving time for assault less than murder. He had not been under state supervision since then, a spokesman for the prison system said.

At one point during the chase, the suspect crossed a wide grassy median on the highway and drove the wrong way down while more than a dozen squad cars pursued him. He crashed the vehicle while driving down an embankment into a wooded area of the highway, which remained closed hours later.

Two other people were shot when the suspect fired at police during the chase, but their wounds were not considered life-threatening. One man was wounded in what Belk described as a “road rage” attack after the suspect fired through the rear window of the vehicle. A woman was hit in the arm in a separate shooting.

The day of gunshots and hot pursuit turned parts of Grand Rapids into a wild scene. Sandra Powney, who lives across the street from one of the homes where the shootings happened, said she had seen Dantzler at the ranch house. She said:“I’ve seen him there. He would come periodically.”

Powney said she had been at home all day and didn’t realize anyone had been killed until police converged on the cul-de-sac at about 3 p.m. “For a while, we couldn’t come outside,” she said. “They didn’t know if there was someone still inside the house.”

Lisa Schenden lives with her husband and their children, ages 11 and 8, two blocks from the home where four people were killed. She said the homeowners are a couple whose daughter has a daughter with the suspect.

Schenden said she did not hear the shooting either, but she saw the suspect and his daughter drive up to the house earlier in the day. “Just last night, my kids went over there swimming, and I went over with them,” she added. [via Guardian, Huffington Post, Detroit Free Press]

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