July 8, 2011 / 3:36 AM / 9 years ago

Suspect in U.S. shootings commits suicide

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (Reuters) - A man suspected of killing seven people, including two children, in western Michigan on Thursday ended a hostage standoff with police by killing himself, authorities said.

A Grand Rapids police car that was both hit and fired upon sits in the corner of Division and Fulton after a high speed chase through downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 7, 2011. REUTERS/Ryan M.L. Young/The Grand Rapids Press and mlive.com/grand-rapids

The suspect, Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, had engaged in a gun battle with police in downtown Grand Rapids and a high speed chase before taking three people hostage at a house. One hostage was released earlier and the other two were safe, Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk said.

The suspect had said he wanted to give himself up, but while he was talking with negotiators about how he could surrender, “we heard a gunshot and it turned out to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” Belk said.

“The hostages are outside. They are safe. The suspect is dead at the scene,” he said.

Belk said police were confident that Dantzler was the suspect in all seven murders and had acted alone.

The standoff had followed the discovery of the bodies of five adults and two children in two separate locations in the city, setting off a manhunt that involved police helicopters, state police and local sheriff’s deputies.

Police spotted Dantzler in a car shortly after the grisly discoveries and began a pursuit that led through downtown Grand Rapids, police spokesman Sergeant Jon Wu said.

Dantzler fired at the officers several times during the chase and police returned fire. Two bystanders were wounded during the chase.

Investigators do not know the motive for the shootings, but believe that one of the victims was his daughter and one was an ex-girlfriend, Belk said.

The hostages were believed to be strangers to Dantzler.

Reporting by Rick Wilson and Alex Dobuzinskis; writing by David Bailey; editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech

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