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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.

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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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