Nine-month old Delric Miller was dead.
Someone fired 37-rounds from an AK-47 semi-assault rifle into his house early Monday morning. The police chief called a press conference, pronounced the baby's murder a gangland-hit and then the moralizing began.
Society is rotten, cackled the talking heads. Detroit has decayed morally and spiritually. Dead-beat fathers. Welfare mothers. A no-snitch culture where witnesses to murder refuse to even call an anonymous tip-line. How else to explain the fact that 51 people have been slaughtered so far this year and the birds haven't yet begun to migrate?
Moral decay is the easy answer.
But there is a significant detail being overlooked from the morning of Delric's murder. It took police 24-minutes to respond to the 911 call.
Think about it. A guy cavalierly steps out of a van, unloads an assault rifle into an occupied house, gets back into the van and drives off. And the police don't arrive for almost a half-hour. The killer could have made the state line in that amount of time.
Maybe it's not moral decay. Maybe the outlaws know something that the talking heads don't.
Maybe they know there is only the thinnest veneer of law and order in the Motor City. Maybe the killer knew before he pulled up to Delric's house that he'd have a 24-minute jump. Maybe he knew less than 100 cops were patrolling the city that morning. Maybe he knew he had superior firepower.
Want to know how bad it's gotten? The old woman next door identified the gun as an AK-47 by the unmistakable sound of it.
The talking heads like to say that the police cannot prevent murder. But that's silk-suited bunkum. If misanthropes believe there is a consequence to their actions – that they'll get caught and do prison time if they light up a house and kill a baby – then you'd see the murder rate drop.
But instead of a daily briefing about the investigation and a plan to curb crime and reconfigure the police department, Mayor Bing popped up just once this week to announce his new Director of Busses. And then he disappeared.
Bing reminds me of a ring of misplaced car keys – you now he's hanging around someplace, but you don't know where exactly.
I called Chief Godbee for an explanation about the slow response time. I was told by his spokeswoman that he was unavailable. And besides, she said, the police would be making no more public statements about a lunatic gunman on the loose.
So who stepped in to fill the leadership void? Raphael Johnson and his group, The Detroit 300. I have to give the man credit. His message is upright: take back your neighborhood, take back your dignity, take responsibility for your children.
But it instilled little confidence to see Johnson at his press conference flanked by men in ski masks and tennis shoes; men whom Johnson claims carry firearms.
"All we need is for you to commit a felony and we're coming to get you," he said. "Period." I hate to see how this one might turn out. A guy with a Glock and wearing Air Jordans is no match for a punk with an AK-47.
But you've got to give it to Johnson. He's talking how the mayor should be talking.