By Ed Runyan
Police acknowledge that Sunday’s killing of Marco Dukes, 32, of Warren and wounding of his cousin was a “gunbattle” and that their investigation focused almost exclusively on Detroit men.
Adding to that connection was the arrest Tuesday night of Derrick Peete, 22, of Detroit in connection with the homicide.
Peete is charged with the aggravated murder of Dukes and will be arraigned in Warren Municipal Court this morning.
The other man charged, Dale Hatch, 25, of Detroit was arraigned Wednesday morning on aggravated murder and is being held in the Trumbull County Jail on $2.5 million bond.
Hatch, who is 6 feet, 4 inches and 240 pounds, appeared relaxed during his video arraignment from the jail.
Warren Municipal Judge Terry Ivanchak asked Hatch whether he thought he would be able to post the $2.5 million bond, and Hatch said, “Two million?” Then he replied that he would not be posting bond.
Hatch answered that he was thinking of hiring Warren attorney Samuel Bluedorn to defend him.
Judge Ivanchak entered an innocent plea for Hatch and mentioned that there was talk of the murder charge being elevated to a death-penalty case, but Hatch is not charged with death-penalty specifications at this time.
“That’s it?” Hatch asked at the end of the short hearing.
Members of Dukes’ family spoke to reporters after the hearing, saying they support the possibility that Hatch might face the death penalty.
“Yes, I would,” said Valerie Redd of Columbus, when asked whether she would like to see Hatch face death. “He’s dead,” she said of her nephew, Marco Dukes.
“All we want is justice,” she said, adding: “Two years ago, [Dukes’ mother] buried another of her sons, and now she has to bury her youngest son.”
“The family is hurting,” Star Mallory of Warren, another relative of Marco Dukes, said, adding that Dukes has a son. Redd said Dukes had “changed his life around” from earlier criminal activity. Dukes had spent several years in prison and had an extensive criminal record.
Mallory questioned why police had not arrested Peete’s girlfriend, whom Mallory alleges picked Peete up from the shooting scene. “Everybody needs to be picked up,” Mallory said.
Detectives Mike Currington and Wayne Mackey said police have interviewed nearly 10 people since Sunday, nearly all of them from Detroit, and police may not be finished making arrests. Arresting people who may have aided those involved in the case is “down the road,” Currington said.
Police say the 10:30 a.m. shooting behind an apartment house at 156 Elm Road NE involved several people with “big” guns firing at each other. Police still are investigating whether the “gun fight” resulted from conflict over drug dealing, Mackey said.
Peete was sent to prison for one year in 2010 from Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for aggravated drug trafficking and was indicted again a month ago in that court on drug possession.
When Peete was arrested Nov. 2 by Warren police while driving at high speed, he and his passenger, James Cohen Jr., 23, had more than $12,000 cash with them.
When he was arrested July 30 by Warren police, he had $5,900 in cash and 4 grams of heroin, police said.
Peete, Cohen and Hatch all have criminal records out of the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Detroit from the 2008 to 2010 period. Hatch’s 2008 Detroit conviction was for receiving stolen property.
Police have recovered weapons they believe were involved in the shooting, and weapons “are always” an important part of any investigation involving a shooting death, Currington said.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin has termed the shooting, which injured Marco Dukes’ cousin Larry A. Smith, 29, of Warren, an “embarrassment” to the city. The shooting was rare in that it happened close to the downtown area during daylight and was close to a prominent downtown church and several popular restaurants.
The shooting happened across the alley from a day care that was closed at the time and resulted in bullets being fired into an occupied apartment building. One bullet hit the day care.
Police say they believe Dukes and Smith were the only two people injured.
Peete was arrested without incident at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday at his girlfriend’s home on Kenilworth Avenue Southeast.
Privately, police say they believe drug sales explain why many young Detroit natives have come to the city.
Asked whether he’s seen any increase in Detroit- based drug sales in Trumbull County, Jeff Orr, commander of the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force, said it appears to be increasing — but not a lot.
“Is it increasing because of heroin? Yes,” Orr said, adding that it wouldn’t be difficult for a heroin dealer to acquire more than $12,000 in cash in one day because it sells for $2,500 to $4,000 per ounce. Detroit is the most common entry point for illegal drugs in Trumbull County, he said.
Orr partly blames physicians for fueling drug addictions in Trumbull County, citing one report indicating that per-capita use of prescription Oxycodone in the county is double the state average.
After someone gets hooked on prescriptions, he sometimes turns to heroin because it costs less than a prescription, Orr said.
Most criminal activity in the county is tied to drug use, he said, adding that if law enforcement could focus its efforts on drug treatment, assessment of at-risk kids and disrupting drug houses, crime would be greatly reduced.