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Mich. gunman who killed 7 commits suicide

2 hostages released safely by man who killed 7 and led police on high-speed chase

Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A gunman opened fire in two Michigan homes Thursday, killing seven people before leading police on a high-speed chase through downtown Grand Rapids and later taking three hostages in a standoff that ended when he committed suicide, authorities said.

The hostages were released unharmed, said Police Chief Kevin Belk.

The standoff began after dozens of officers with guns drawn had cordoned off a neighborhood near a small lake in the northern part of the city and shut down nearby Interstate 96. With the man surrounded, state police warned some residents to stay in their homes and evacuated others.

Authorities did not have a motive for the suspect, 34-year-old Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, or disclose his exact relationship with the victims.

The manhunt for Dantzler began after four people were found dead in one home and three were found in another across town. The dead included two children.

"It's an awful situation, and he's still at large," Mayor George Heartwell told The Associated Press. He did not know any motive or Dantzler's relationship to any of the victims.

At one point during the chase, the suspect crossed a wide grassy median on the interstate and drove the wrong way down the highway while more than a dozen squad cars pursued him. The highway 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. Some of the gunshots struck the windshield of a police cruiser in downtown Grand Rapids. No officers were hurt, Belk said.

Records show Dantzler was discharged from state prison in 2005 after serving time for assault less than murder. A spokesman for the prison system said he had not been under state supervision since then.

Sandra Powney lives across the street from one of the homes where the shootings happened and said she had seen Dantzler at the ranch house, where a couple has lived for more than 20 years with two adult daughters.

Powney said she had been at home all day and did not realize anyone had been killed until police converged on the cul-de-sac in the midafternoon.

"For a while we couldn't come outside," she said. "They didn't know if there was someone still inside the house."
Neighbors said police converged on Dantzler's home after the shootings a few miles away.

Sonia Bergers said Dantzler lived in the home with a woman she assumed was his wife and their daughter, a girl who appeared to be about 10 years old.

Mary Lahuis said she and her husband had returned home after having coffee at a nearby fast-food restaurant.

"We were in the house, and police went down our street, running with guns," she said. "They told us to get in the house."

Of Dantzler she said: "You would see him going up and down the street. And you'd hear him going up and down the street."

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 said.

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