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*The Michigan Chronicle is discussing violence against youth in Detroit, and why it’s happening, especially after four children were shot in four days in the month of June. In this two-part series we delve into who the devastation impacts, how the community is responding and what needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable.
Brison Christian is a name many in Detroit will never forget, and for tragic reasons.
The two-year-old boy died in a freeway shooting in Detroit on Thursday, June 17; his nine-year-old brother was also shot but survived.
An outpouring of support came flooding in from the city of Detroit, community leaders and others who wrapped their arms around the Christian family including Brison’s mother and father. From vigils and donations to prioritizing funding around stopping violence and more, many banded together to figure out how to protect the youth so more children don’t have to perish.
On Tuesday, June 22, during a press conference, Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw announced that Darius Lanier, 19, and Eugene Hubbard, 20, both of Detroit, were arraigned and charged in connection with Brison’s death. The shooting incident was found out to be a case of mistaken identity and the wrong car was targeted.
Both assailants were charged with one count of first-degree murder, three counts of assault with intent to murder, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing death, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing injury, two counts of discharge from a vehicle and eight counts of felony firearm.
During the press conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other city and area officials gathered with the Christian family and announced a multi-jurisdiction freeway crime prevention plan, Operation Brison.
“This is a tragedy that has rocked all of us in the city,” Duggan said during the press conference, adding that the worst calls he receives are when he learns that children were killed at the hands of others. “It is just so difficult to accept and in the days of grief that have followed I thought the clearest statement that was made was made by Brison’s father … who said he wanted Brison to be the face of freeway shootings.”
Duggan said that the statement to him means the city is “not going to accept this as normal.”
“The idea that children are killed in our community; the idea that people go up and down freeways shooting at cars without regard as who might be affected … as a community, we have to fight back,” he said, adding that the whole Christian family was innocent, and Brian Christian, Brison’s father, got the ball rolling on a plan of action that Duggan and the Detroit Police Department spearheaded.
“When Mr. Christian said he wanted things to change Chief (James) White and I got to talking about that and he started talking to suburban chiefs — there are a whole lot of cities right now that are dealing with this issue,” Duggan said, adding that criminals are finding it is easier to engage in freeway shootings because it is harder for witnesses to detect who did the shootings.
According to statistics from a WXYZ report, there have been 24 freeway shootings this year in metro Detroit with 22 of them coming out of Detroit.
“We’ve seen a rise in this behavior, and it endangers everybody,” Duggan said.
White said that there are a lot of “evil predators” in the community focusing on children and “indiscriminately” firing weapons.
“This is unacceptable — people ought not to live like this,” White said. “This is a horrible situation… enough is enough.”
“Bad actors are able to talk other bad actors into bad acts immediately,” White said, adding that people aren’t being talked out of this deplorable behavior.
He added that with children “being taken away” from the community at the hands of killers, the community should continue to step up and help get other evil predators off the streets.
“If you care anything about this community, if you care anything about Brison, it is important that you speak up and let us know where these predators are,” he said, adding that Operation Brison is vital to freeway safety.
“In response to a number of these issues that are happening on the freeways today I am announcing Operation Brison, a coordinated effort with neighboring police agencies that have freeway veins that run through their community,” White said. “We’re going to partner, use eyes in the sky (air support), provide patrols on freeways.”
White added that Detroit police and other agencies will be on the lookout for road rage incidents and violent incidences so that they are reduced or eliminated.
He also thanked the Detroit Police Department, the Detroit Police Department’s homicide section and others that put in “tireless hours into this work.”
Brison’s father spoke at the press conference and thanked the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and others for banding together to work on the case.
“That’s what it is all about — coming together for one common goal,” he said, adding that his family was on their way home from a basketball game when the tragedy occurred. “I feel like none of us, none of my family was supposed to make it out [of] that truck. I keep replaying the incident in the back of my mind and thinking what I could have done differently?”
Christian said that the conclusion he drew was that he couldn’t have done anything differently because everyone was safely buckled up in the car on their way home.
“When the situation happened, I kept saying, ‘Man what did I do for someone to want to kill me and my family?’”
He said that despite the tragedy, he is glad that the wheels of justice are turning and police forces are working together to keep the community safer now.
“My family and I are happy to hear about the new procedures that are going to go forward with the freeways, that is going to be huge, and my family, we definitely appreciate you guys’ support,” he said.