Skip to Content

Detroit teen who allegedly killed three people pleads not guilty to murder charges

<i>Detroit Police Department via AP</i><br/>Dontae Smith is pictured in this photo provided by the Detroit Police Department.
Detroit Police Department via AP
Dontae Smith is pictured in this photo provided by the Detroit Police Department.

By Kiely Westhoff, Rob Frehse and Alaa Elassar, CNN

A Detroit teen who is suspected of shooting four people, killing three, in a “shooting spree” Sunday has pleaded not guilty to murder charges, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Dontae Smith, 19, was charged on Wednesday with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of assault with intent to murder, one count of animal cruelty and five counts of felony firearm, the prosecutor’s office said in a press release.

CNN has reached out to several legal aid groups to find Smith’s attorney.

“It is not an overstatement to say that on Sunday morning, August 28, like a scene out of a movie this alleged defendant reigned real terror on the citizens northwest Detroit,” prosecutor Kym Worthy said in the release. “Normal, everyday life was brought to a standstill as he moved east to his next victim.”

Prosecutors said Chayen Lewis Lee, 28, Lari Brisco, 43, and a woman who has not yet been identified all died in the shootings. John Palif, 76, was shot in the leg and survived the shooting. His dog was also shot in the foot but survived, prosecutors say.

Each of the victims appeared to have been targeted randomly and are not believed to be connected, Detroit Police Chief James White noted. One was waiting for a bus, another was walking his dog and another was simply on the street, White said. None of them were robbed.

Smith was arrested after a person close to him reported him to police, authorities said Monday. He has no criminal history but police have “some indication that there is mental illness,” White said earlier.

The most critical piece of evidence in the investigation was that all of the shootings had 9-millimeter casings, police said. After Smith was identified, police were able to find a 9-millimeter firearm through a search warrant of his home and matched the firearm to the one used in all four of the shootings, according to Detroit Police Commander Michael McGinnis.

In a statement, White said the suspect “easily obtained” the gun.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Nicki Brown, Chris Boyette and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - National

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content