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A body in the river, a girl in the river, a body in a room

A screenshot of Port Huron Police Chief Joe Platzer addressing the city council earlier this spring.
A screenshot of Port Huron Police Chief Joe Platzer addressing the city council earlier this spring.

‘Unusual or serious’ crimes more than double in Port Huron in May

By Jim Bloch

With municipalities beginning to open up, the novel coronavirus loosened its grip on crime in May.

“Port Huron Police Department employees were much busier this May with 18 crimes of an unusual or serious nature compared to seven last month,” announced City Manager James Freed in his administrative report for May, released June 9.

B&E, drunk driving and shots fired

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“On May 6th, officers responded to the First Congregational Church at 723 Court Street on a breaking-and-entering alarm,” said Freed.

Officers discovered a broken window on the second floor and large amount of blood. Inside they discovered a Port Huron resident, 31, bleeding profusely. Officers provided first aid, applied a tourniquet and transported the man to Port Huron McLaren Hospital, where they filled out a petition for a mental health evaluation.

On May 14, police responded to a report of a man damaging his neighbor’s fence with a vehicle on the 2800 block of Electric Avenue. An officer found the vehicle parked on Mason Avenue. The driver saw the officer and ran away. 

“A short vehicle pursuit occurred and ended back in the neighbor’s backyard,” Freed said. “The driver, a 32 year old male Port Huron resident, fled on foot.”

Police caught the man, charged him with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and lodged him in St. Clair County Jail.

“On May 15, officers responded to the 1400/1500 blocks of 6th Street on a report of shots fired,” said Freed. “A suspect was described as a male riding a full-sized bike. Officers found twelve handgun cartridges in the streets. Calls of shots fired were received at 11:15 p.m. and 2:55 a.m. The investigation continues by the Major Crimes Unit.”

On May 16, police responded to a reported home invasion on the 3000 block of Military Street. The suspect fled. Police tracked the man, 37, to a garage on the 2900 block of Military Street, where he was found with a lacerated arm. Police transported him to Lake Huron Medical center prior to charging him.

Child molestation, child hit by car, man shot in leg

“On May 19, officers responded to the 1800 block of 16th Street on a report of a registered sex offender molesting a child in the area,” said Freed. “Detectives were called out to assist road patrol and a full investigation was conducted. The suspect, a 78 year old male Port Huron resident, was charged with First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, Possession of Child Pornography, and Habitual Offender. He was lodged in the St. Clair County Jail.”

On May 19, police received a report of pedestrian injured in a traffic accident and responded to the 800 block of Erie Street. They discovered that a two-year old child had walked out of his house and into traffic, where he was struck by a vehicle driven by a 30 year old Port Huron resident. The boy was treated at Port Huron McLaren Hospital for minor injuries and released.

On May 24, police received a report that a 38-year Port Huron man had been shot in the leg on the 900 block of 11th Street. The victim said that he was approached by a man in his 20s who then fired shots at him. Police transported victim to the hospital for treatment. Apparently, the victim and suspect know each other. Police determined that the shooting had roots in an assault that occurred on Boat Night 2012. The Major Crimes Unit continues to investigate.

A body in the river, a girl in the river, a body in a room

“On May 25, officers and SCC Sheriff Marine Units responded to a body floating in the St. Clair River near the mouth of the Black River,” said Freed. “The US Coast Guard, SCC Dive Team and Port Huron Fire Department assisted. The deceased was later identified as Larod Denate Smith who was reported missing by the St. Clair County Sheriff Office on April 1. His vehicle was found parked at the Acheson riverfront on April 2. St. Clair County Sheriff Office Detective Bureau is handling the investigation.”

On May 28, police received a report of a juvenile runaway in the vicinity of the 2500 block of Little Street. Police found the girl on the 2600 block of Military Street near the break wall. 

“As officers attempted to talk with the juvenile, (she) jumped into the St. Clair River and could not swim,” Freed said. “She was rescued by officers who threw her a rope from their Mustang Water Kit. She was taken to Port Huron McLaren Hospital for a mental health evaluation.”

On May 29, police discovered a Port Huron man, 42, dead in a room at the Days Inn motel in the 2900 block of Pine Grove Avenue. They found drug paraphernalia near the body. The body was taken to the morgue for an autopsy.

No increase in overdoses

“The number of reported drug overdoses in the month of May were 12, the same

as last month,” said Freed. “Nine were from heroin and three were from unknown causes.”

Two people died from overdoses.

Calls for service — traffic stops, personal investigations, proactive policing, etc. –increased by 27 percent in May, up from April’s 1317 to 1,800.

“Again this month, the Port Huron police officers participated in numerous birthday party drive-by celebrations as a stay at home order was in place due to COVID-19,” Freed said.

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