SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) — A 64-year-old man who was killed after walking into a suburban Detroit police station and opening fire on officers without saying a word was a military veteran who had health issues, authorities said Monday.
Officers fatally shot Harold Joseph Collins on Sunday afternoon in the lobby of the police headquarters in Southfield, and a 50-year-old sergeant was hurt in the exchange of fire.
Authorities were investigating what might have prompted the shootout, which happened on Veterans Day. A preliminary investigation indicates Collins had medical problems, but it is not clear if that had any bearing on his actions, Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins told reporters.
Hawkins did not specify the nature of Collins' health issues, but a family member told The Detroit News that Collins had throat cancer and was unable to speak. A neighbor of Collins also told The Associated Press that he had trouble speaking.
"Based on the behavior of this individual, my opinion and the opinion of the investigating officers, is that this person was struggling with some very serious internal issues," Hawkins said.
Collins walked into the building about 2:20 p.m. Sunday and used a .380-caliber handgun to confront an officer seated behind bulletproof glass.
"What's so unusual about this situation is that ... there were no words, whatsoever," Hawkins said. "The suspect approached the front desk officer and simply stared at the officer. I was told that the suspect appeared to be staring into the distance and not a word was said."
That officer sought cover and called for assistance. Other officers arrived from other parts of the building and ordered Collins to drop the weapon. Collins refused and gunfire was exchanged.
Collins later died at an area hospital.
Police would not confirm Monday if Collins had throat cancer, but a daughter of Collins' ex-wife, Seretha Nobles, said that was the case.