Al's Barber Shop in Detroit, the day after the shooting
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The gunman had a beef with the guys gambling in the back of Al's Barber Shop in Detroit, so he strapped on body armor and shot into the crowd of people Wednesday evening. At least one man in the crowd returned fire. In total three men were killed and six were wounded. The police have arrested a "person of interest," and the embattled city of Detroit has yet another tragedy to deal with on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"It is certainly tragic, and it rises up to one of Detroit’s more violent incidents,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a televised news conference Thursday, according to the Times. "It is certainly a violent act and what I am calling 'urban terrorism'."

Chief Craig's phrasing describes what has been plaguing black communities for decades—"urban terrorism," an almost poetic term that only partly captures the violence, tragedy and fear that grips Detroit. As the world steels itself against threats of global terrorism, the shooting in Detroit is emblematic of the concern and fear that those in the inner city experience daily. 

Advertisement

Arnold Redmond, who was waiting for a dice game to start at the barbershop Wednesday, found himself in the middle of the fray, according to the Detroit Free Press.

He managed to escape serious injury by hugging the wall and hitting the floor. He was shot in the buttocks and left leg before he ran across the road and was let into a party store by the owner.

“I was too scared to feel anything,” Redmond, a 65-year-old West Bloomfield retiree, told the Free Press. 

Advertisement

A person of interest has already been apprehended, according to police. The unidentified person is being held on a felonious assault warrant, unrelated to the barbershop shooting, the Los Angeles Times reports. The person has not been charged in connection with the barbershop tragedy, although he was wearing body armor when he was arrested, the Free Press said. 

"We cannot comment on specifics of this case," Craig said according to the Times. "We are very much early in the investigation."

What we do know is this: Wednesday evening, approximately 20 to 30 people had gathered at Al’s Barber Shop on the east side to gamble. The shooter entered the storefront and started firing his weapon. Police were on location within two minutes of the 911 call, but damage had already been done.

Bryan Williams, 29, Joezell Williams, 61, and Kevin Perryman, 40, lost their lives in the incident from multiple gunshot wounds, the Free Press reports. Their families are still trying to make sense of the losses.

“It don’t make sense for people to be losing their lives daily,” Charzell Shields, the daughter of Joezell Williams, told the Free Press.

The police chief believes that the exchange was a result of a disagreement between the gunman and people inside the shop.

Advertisement

There were reports of more than one gunman, but police are still investigating that claim and how many rounds were fired.

According to the Times, Chief Craig would not talk about the gambling or if any gambling charges were being pressed. The chief is more concerned about the fact that the shooter wore body armor, an aspect of the case that could lead to a federal charge.

“It’s unusual and tends to suggest things,” Craig said. “Police officers wear body armor. Why a community member would, raises a number of questions.”

Advertisement

But urban terrorism, much like global terrorism, only affects the masses when it spreads out of its confinements. Detroit is a bankrupt city struggling to find its way, and the violence there is usually constricted to black on black.

The news under-reports these happenings because poverty and violence have become synonymous. It is as if there is less value in the lives of those who can't afford better.

The tragedy is twofold. First, a gunman entered a barbershop and began shooting people. The second, less visible tragedy is that there is somehow an acceptance of this behavior. It is frightening to imagine an America where a gunman can don body armor and go into a crowded environment shooting people—except if the men who are shot are inside a barbershop, the gunman is in Detroit and those involved are black. Well, then somehow it just isn't news.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press