Gunman accused of killing Detroit officer appeared to be trying to 'bait' police, chief says

Two officers were shot, one fatally, as they went down a staircase into a basement while responding to a home invasion.
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Detroit Police Chief James Craig speaks to reporters Thursday after two officers were shot while responding to a home invasion Wednesday night.David Guralnick / Detroit News via AP

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By Phil Helsel

A gunman accused of killing a Detroit police officer and wounding another after a home invasion is believed to have been "trying to bait the officers" and opened fire on them without warning, the police chief said Thursday.

"It was very clear that this suspect was trying to bait the officers. He had a presence of mind,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a news conference. "But also it was clear he wanted suicide by cop, just based on his actions."

Police identified the officer who was killed Wednesday night as Rasheen McClain, a 16-year veteran of the department. Craig described him as a hero who took command of the dangerous situation after officers were called to a home invasion.

Officer Rasheen McClain.Detroit Police Department / AP

Another officer, Phillippe Batoum-Bisse, was shot in the ankle as four officers made their way down a staircase into the home's basement after clearing the second and first floors.

The suspect, 28, who was not identified, was shot in the arm by another officer and ran about a block before he was apprehended by police. He was at a hospital in serious condition.

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Craig said the suspect was armed with an assault-style weapon containing an extended magazine and a folding stock. McClain was shot in the neck and died, he said.

The home invasion is believed to have been motivated by a domestic violence situation involving the suspect’s estranged girlfriend, Craig said. Police believe the suspect tried to see the girlfriend two weeks ago but was denied entry, and “he responded by shooting the house up,” Craig said.

Wednesday night's home invasion occurred at the same house.

The suspect is on parole after serving eight years in prison, Craig said. His first arrest occurred in 2009 when he was 14 years old, for alleged home invasion, the chief said.

McClain was one of the first two officers to arrive at the house, where a person armed with a long gun was reportedly inside. After backup arrived, four officers, including McClain, went in to look for the suspect, Craig said.

After clearing the upper level and the main level, which were dark, the four officers went down a staircase into the basement, which was lit. McClain’s body camera showed the officer repeatedly announcing they were the police and ordering the suspect to show his hands, Craig said.

"Looking at the body camera, I could see that the suspect — as they got halfway down the staircase, in a very closed environment, the suspect came out from the left," Craig said. "He fired quickly twice, striking both officers."

The other two officers pulled back after the shooting, and the suspect ran up the stairs and was shot as he was leaving the house, Craig said.

"He was very target specific," the police chief said of the suspect. "He knew what he had planned to do."

McClain leaves behind a wife of 10 years and two step-children, Craig said. He said that many officers went to the hospital to show support for the shot officers Wednesday night, and called it a "dark day" for police.

"This is certainly a heartbreaking day for the brave men and women of the Detroit Police Department," Craig said. He said McClain "made the ultimate sacrifice."