By Jeff Karoub and David Runk
The Associated Press
DETROIT — A 25-year-old man with a history of tussling with police shot and killed one officer Monday in a gun battle at a suspected drug house that left four other officers wounded, authorities said.
The suspect has not been formally charged and police have not identified him publicly. But a person close to the investigation told The Associated Press the suspect's name is Jason Gibson, also known as James Everet. The person requested anonymity because the suspect hasn't been officially charged.
According to police, 42-year-old Officer Brian Huff and his partner were the first to arrive at the house after a 911 report of gunshots there. Before dawn, they entered the two-story building because the other officers who responded were less experienced.
"They wanted to make sure the rookies were OK," said Steve Dolunt, the Eastern District police commander.
Two minutes later, the call came in of "officer down." Huff - a 12-year veteran of the force who was married with a 10-year-old son - was fatally shot. His partner and three other officers were wounded at the house, located on a block of mostly well-kept bungalows and two-story duplexes on the city's northeast side.
It was the first time in six years that a Detroit police officer was killed in the line of duty.
The 25-year-old suspect was arrested after fleeing the house, police said. He was shot once in the lower back and was hospitalized in fair condition. Police Chief Warren Evans said he had past convictions for fleeing police and attempting to disarm a police officer.
"The truth of the matter is, this guy fights with the police," Evans said at an afternoon news conference. "If he was in jail, where I think he ought to be, we may not have had an officer killed today."
Police and prosecutors said they weren't aware if the suspect had a lawyer.
Everet was sentenced to three years of probation in December 2007 for attempting to disarm a police officer and cocaine possession, according to Michigan Department of Corrections records. He didn't show up in April 2008 for a probation appointment and a warrant for his arrest was issued that month.
The suspect, police said, was last arrested in November for carrying a concealed weapon, but was released on bond after spending two months in jail. He had failed to show up for a March 5 court hearing on the weapons case.
Evans said officers responded after a next-door neighbor reported hearing shots.
Shelia Brown, 47, said she was awakened by two or three gunshots early Monday, followed by eight or nine more. Brown said she has been offered drugs by people while walking past the house.
"They ask you if you want to buy weed," said Brown, adding that she has previously called police, but "they come out but the guys are gone by then."
The officers who responded to the call Monday positioned themselves at the front and rear entrances of the building, Evans said. He said officers at the front of the house were met with heavy gunfire. Huff was shot inside the home and struck two or three times, Evans said.
Evans and Mayor Dave Bing visited the slain officer's widow at St. John's Hospital in Detroit.
"We need to come together as a city to stop this madness," Bing said. "This makes absolutely no sense."
Evans announced a major push against crime shortly after Bing hired him last summer. A series of crime blitzes, spearheaded in part by a special task force, has resulted in dozens of arrests and seizures of guns and drugs
Officer Randy Randolph, 33, said he previously worked in the same district as Huff, whom he described as a "big Teddy bear."
"Although he was a big guy - he was aggressive on the street - he had a good heart. He was a lovable guy," Randolph said. "Everybody liked him. ... When he was out there on the street, you knew he was going to back you up."
Huff worked late night shifts, and would run into Dolunt at the end of his shift.
"He was always smiling in the morning. You can't say that about most people who work midnights," Dolunt said. "He showed up, and you were happy. He was a physical kind of guy; a veteran officer."
Two of the four wounded officers were treated and released. Two others, including Huff's partner, Officer Joeseph D'Angelo, who was shot in the thigh, remained hospitalized in good condition.
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Police said a .45-caliber handgun and a pound of marijuana were recovered at the house. Several neighbors said the block was quiet during the day, but that gunshots were commonly heard in the surrounding area.