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Michigan shootings highlight power of smartphones, shortcomings of social media

A police standoff Thursday with a suspect in seven fatal shootings in Grand Rapids, Mich., shows how smartphone apps for police scanners are giving citizens a new mobile window on crime fighting.

Grand Rapids Police investigate the scene on Knapp Street near James Ave. in Grand Rapids, Mich.Seven people were fatally shot at two homes.

The Grand Rapids Press, Cory Morse/AP

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The man suspected of killing seven people, engaging police in a shootout in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a car chase had holed up in a house in Stephanie Sicard’s neighborhood.

He had hostages. He was demanding Gatorade.

Ms. Sicard, a college student, sat enthralled, listening on her iPhone to the 5-0 Radio Police Scanner application that was giving her pieces of information unavailable through mainstream media.

The tragedy Thursday in Grand Rapids shows how smartphone applications, many free or costing a few dollars, are giving citizens a mobile window on police crime fighting. It also highlights how social media such as Twitter, can be a first – and often poor – source of information.

Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, who was suspected in the murder of seven people including two children, engaged police in a gunfight in Grand Rapids before leading them on a car chase, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Dantzler crashed his car in a ditch then fled on foot. He forced his way into a house in northeast Grand Rapids, taking three hostages.
After an eight-hour standoff, Dantzler shot himself fatally and the hostages escaped.


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