Oakland Country Sherriff officials have confirmed that an “active shooter” is now in custody after unleashing an exchange of gunfire against police.
The suspect, later identified as Vernest Griffin, has been identified as a 45-year-old Sterling Heights man. He reportedly walked into a Pennsylvania Avenue trucking company Thursday morning, allegedly shooting and killing the manager. At which point, the suspect then stole a white semi truck and drove to another business, Aluminum Blanking, where he shot and killed a second man. The suspect then visited a third business, Assured Carriers, asking for a third man who was unavailable. Police believe the whole situation was “a planned killing spree.”
According to CBS Local Detroit, local resident Chuck Clear gave the following eye-witness account:
“The next thing I know the Waterford Police Department pulls up — and I’m sitting here thinking it’s just a traffic accident. They jump out of the car and start shooting…they were shooting at each other and then the Waterford Police Department shot the one guy, he fell to the ground.”
Another witness, Patrick Kaherher gave the following report:
“Lots of police cars, we saw at least three Waterford police cars, and four of five Oakland County Sheriffs heading southbound on Dixie Highway….They have the road blocked off and I saw some officers suiting up with body armor.”
An Assured Carriers employee, Nick Verhey, described his encounter with the shooter, adding that he was unsure what prompted the killings:
“I got to my doorway, he was standing right there and we were face to face, and I basically slammed the door in his face, locked the door.”
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.”
Who is Vernest James Griffin?
According to The News Herald, the suspect was later identified as Vernest James Griffin by workers, although police did not immediately name him. However, Taylor Police Chief John Blair confirmed that the suspect had the same pending felonies and previous arrest record with Griffin’s current charges. Fox 2 later identified the shooter as Griffin.
Griffin was out on bond pending a March trial for brandishing a firearm in public, assault with a dangerous weapon and a felony firearm charge.
At this time, a motive for the shooting is not known.