CRIME

Police: Michigan shootings suspect releases 1 hostage

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Police say the suspect in seven Michigan shooting deaths has released one of two people he's been holding hostage during a standoff with officers.

Police close off a section of downtown Grand Rapids after a pedestrian was allegedly struck by a suspect running from the police. (AP Photo/Adam Bird)

The 53-year-old female hostage was released unharmed Thursday night. Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk says second hostage also is uninjured.

Belk says police are communicating with the suspect, 34-year-old Rodrick Shonte Dantzler.

A manhunt for Dantzler began after four people were found dead in one Grand Rapids home and three were found in another across town. Belk now says the dead included two children.

The frantic search included a high-speed chase through downtown Grand Rapids during which Belk says the suspect shot two other people. They did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Belk says police are communicating with 34-year-old Rodrick Shonte Dantzler.

A manhunt for Dantzler began after four people were found dead in one Grand Rapids home and three were found in another across town.

Within hours, dozens of officers with guns drawn had cordoned off a neighborhood near a small lake in the northern part of the city and shut down nearby Interstate 96. State police believed they had the man surrounded but warned residents to stay in their homes.

The manhunt began after four people were found dead in one Grand Rapids home and three were found in another across town. Mayor George Heartwell said police were seeking 34-year-old Rodrick Shonte Dantzler.

"It's an awful situation, and he's still at large," Heartwell told The Associated Press. He did not know any motive or Dantzler's relationship to any of the victims.

At one point during the chase, the suspect crossed a wide grass median on the interstate and drove the wrong way down the highway while more than a dozen police cars pursued him.

Belk says two other people were shot during the police chase that followed but neither suffered life-threatening injuries.

Witnesses told WOOD-TV that shots were fired from the vehicle during the chase and may have struck a bystander.

Sandra Powney lives across the street from one of the homes where the shootings happened and said she had seen Dantzler at the ranch house where a couple had lived for more than 20 years with two adult daughters.

Powney said she had been at home all day and did not realize anyone had been killed until police converged on the cul-de-sac in the midafternoon.

"For a while we couldn't come outside," she said. "They didn't know if there was someone still inside the house."

A spokesman for the state prison system, Russ Marlan, said records show Dantzler was discharged from prison in 2005 after serving time for assault less than murder. He has not been under state supervision since then, Marlan said.

Neighbors said police converged on Dantzler's home and removed two dogs after the shootings a few miles away.

Sonia Bergers said Dantzler lived in the home with a woman she assumed was his wife and their daughter, a girl who appeared to be about 10 years old.

"We've talked with the person they assumed did the shootings," Mary Lahuis told the AP. "You would see him going up and down the street - and you'd hear him going up and down the street."

Lisa Schenden lives with her husband and their children, ages 11 and 8, two blocks from the home where four people were killed. Schenden said the homeowners are a couple whose daughter has a daughter with the suspect.

Schenden said she did not hear the shooting but did see the suspect and his daughter drive up to the house earlier in the day.

"Just last night, my kids went over there swimming, and I went over with them," she said.

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