A truck driver was taken into custody after seeking out and shooting two people from local businesses in what police are now calling a “planned killing spree.”
The shootings happened on Thursday morning, February 1st, in and around Taylor, Michigan.
Police say the incident started at BSD Linehaul Michigan Inc. in the 24400 block of Pennsylvania Street, when the 45-year-old suspect, formerly an employee of BSD Linehaul Michigan Inc., walked into the business and shot and killed the manager, 60-year-old Kieth Kitchen.
The unnamed suspect then stole a white 2016 tractor truck from the parking lot of BSD Linehaul Michigan Inc. and drove it to Aluminum Blanking on Sheffield St. in Pontiac, where he shot 58-year-old Eriberto Perez several times in the back, killing him.
The suspect then drove to Assured Carriers in Waterford, but the man he asked for was not there.
“He was standing right there and [I] said, ‘What are you doing?’, and I couldn’t hardly understand him, but I think he told me, he said, ‘I’m not looking for you,’” said Nick Verhey, an employee of Assured Carriers who was there at the time of the incident.
Unable to find who he was looking for, the suspect then left Assured Carriers in the stolen big rig, but that’s when police caught up to him.
“When he left that Waterford business and was driving they [police officers] were behind him with their lights and siren on. He stopped the truck, shot at him [the officers], got back in the truck, continued to flee ,” explained Sheriff Mike Bouchard.
The suspect then drive through the intersection of Dixie Highway and Frembes Road, where he struck at least one other vehicle, injuring two, before shooting at Waterford police officers, prompting them to return fire, shooting him in return. The suspect was apprehended and has since undergone surgery and is being kept at a local hospital under guard. Upon investigation of the scene, an AK-47 was discovered inside the cab of the truck with multiple 30 round magazines taped together.
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“The suspect appeared to know exactly where he was going, went directly into this building, made turns and through doors and engaged this one person only and then left. This was a planned killing spree,” said Bouchard.
“It’s fortunate that no one else was hurt… “ Bouchard continued.
“When you’ve got a person, clearly, that stops in the middle of the road, turns around, gets out and starts shooting at police cars… He doesn’t care about anything or anyone after he’s already killed.”
Verhey says he has no idea what could have caused such a violent reaction.
“He was just a normal truck driver; he did local trucking for us. I mean, we never had any words with the guy or anything…He quit on us twice and we actually rehired him the second time, but…he never seemed to have a problem here,” Verhey said to CBS Local Detroit.
According to police, this was not he first time the suspect has been involved in a violent crime. At the time of the shooting, the man was already out on bond for an incident late last year during which he entered a business with a weapon and threatened to shoot.
“He was a disgruntled employee who had had problems previously at the location. It appears today he came back for some sort of vengeance,” police chief John Blair stated in a press conference.
identified the shooter as 45-year-old Vernest James Griffin from Sterling Heights, Michigan.