DETROIT –A veteran Detroit police officer killed in the line of duty was hailed as a hero after he and other officers confronted a gunman accused of invading a home on the city’s west side.
Investigators believe the 28-year-old suspect entered the home Wednesday evening looking for his girlfriend. Rasheen McClain, 46, and his partner, Phillippe Batoum-Bisse, were the first two officers to respond to the domestic situation, police Chief James Craig said.
Officers were told that the suspect was armed. McClain, a 16-year veteran, “made a conscious decision that it was time to go in and deal with a very dangerous situation,” Craig said.
The suspect, who police believed had tactical training, fired a high-powered rifle at officers as they looked for him in the basement of the home, authorities said.
“He really is a hero,” Craig said of the McClain. “He fought a good fight.”
Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday said McClain “was an officer that everyone looked up to, was a natural leader in every situation.”
“And, in fact in this case, first one in the door, first one down the stairs to confront an armed suspect,” Duggan said. “His courage resulted in tragedy.”
People ‘began running out, frantic’ when police arrived
Police had been called to the house around 7:20 p.m., responding to the report that a man with a gun had invaded the home, Craig said. McClain and Batoum-Bisse arrived in the patrol car within eight minutes of getting the call, the police chief said.
The home’s occupants “began running out, frantic” to meet arriving officers, the chief said. They told officers the suspect was in the home armed with a long rifle.
Craig said officers learned that the man was suspected of shooting at the home two weeks ago in a dispute with a girlfriend after her relative wouldn’t let him inside.
McClain radioed for help and two officers arrived.
Using keys from the occupants, four officers opened the front door and cleared the main and upper levels with flashlights, the chief said.
As the officers got halfway down the basement stairs, the suspect came out from the left side, and fired quickly, twice, hitting McClain and Batoum-Bisse, the chief said.
The two officers in the back retreated for cover. The suspect ran up the stairs, past McClain and Batoum-Bisse.
The officers who took cover fired at the suspect as he left the home, hitting him in the arm, Craig said. The wounded gunman ran about a block from the house, where he was apprehended in a backyard and taken to a hospital, Craig said.
The suspect was receiving medical treatment, Craig said. Information about his condition wasn’t immediately released.
“It was very clear that this suspect was trying to bait the officers. He had a presence of mind,” Craig said. “But also what was clear, he wanted suicide by cop.”
Craig said the suspect was paroled in March. Investigators believe he was at the home to look for his girlfriend, Craig said.
“He was angry,” Craig said, adding that he didn’t know whether the girlfriend lived there. “That’s what we know right now in terms of why he was there and why he was acting in a threatening manner.”
McClain was married for 10 years and was the father of two stepchildren, Craig said.
“We’ve had far too many of these and each one gets even more painful,” the mayor said.