It took a vast and viral showing of public outrage for a Michigan court to keep a man accused of shooting his 6-year-old neighbor over a bike in his lawn in jail. Ryan Le-Nguyen was initially allowed to post a $10,000 bail after being accused of shooting the child playing on the sidewalk in front of Le-Nguyen’s home through his window last Sunday in the Detroit suburb of Ypsilanti Township, county officials explained in social media posts. Eli Savit, the prosecuting attorney, said on Wednesday in his Facebook post, “we have charged that case with the highest possible available charges–assault with intent to murder.”
“We share in the community’s pain and anger from a child being shot,” Savit added. “And we know that, for many, the pain and anger is compounded by the fact that the defendant was able to make his bond as set by the court.”
“To be clear: our office recommended significantly more restrictive bond conditions, and we disagree with the bond decision that was handed down by the court. That is why, on Tuesday afternoon, we filed an emergency motion to cancel the defendant’s bond, and for his bond to be reconsidered.We are committed to fighting for safety and for justice in our community, and we will continue to do so in this case–and in all our cases. Please take a moment to watch this video explaining our position and how we intend to move forward.”
The shooting followed an earlier altercation between the child, another 14-year-old child, and a 9-year-old, a public information officer with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office told USA TODAY. Although the sheriff’s office hasn’t confirmed what specifically led Le-Nguyen to shoot at a child, Arnold Daniel, the injured boy’s father, told Fox 2 Detroit he suspects it was regarding a bike his boy left in Le-Nguyen’s yard and tried to retrieve.
“He tried hitting me with a sledgehammer, but that’s not going to work because I’m too fast,” the child told Fox 2 Detroit. He said the man identified as Le-Nguyen got a gun and shot him at that point. The sound of a gun firing can be heard on Ring surveillance video of the incident followed by footage of children running and the injured child yelling: “He shot me.”
The bullet pierced one of his arms before going out the other side, Fox 2 Detroit reported. When deputies called to the shooting arrived, the child was transported to a local hospital, treated and released.
Daniel told the Detroit Fox affiliate he spent hours on the phone trying to get county officials to explain what happened. Le-Nguyen was initially charged with two firearms charges, assault with intent to commit bodily harm, and assault with intent to commit murder, which carries a lesser sentence than attempted murder in Michigan, USA Today reported. Le-Nguyen was arraigned last Monday and later released. “And I’m trying to figure out how he got a bond that was so low for trying to kill my kid,” Daniel told Fox 2 Detroit on Tuesday. He added that his son at the time wasn’t really processing what happened. “He don’t realize how close he came to not being here, but I realize it,” the father said.
Warning: This video depicts the shooting of a child and may be triggering for some viewers.
Facing what it described as “numerous questions” regarding how the shooter could be allowed bond, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office placed blame squarely with prosecutors on Friday. “In Michigan, the setting of bond is a prosecutorial process and a judicial decision. Police agencies do not have authority to set bond,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post. “In this particular case, staff of the Washtenaw County Sheriffs Office investigated, apprehended the suspect, and swore before a magistrate to the facts of the case. Our staff arrested the suspect and took him off the streets because we believed he was responsible for the crimes committed and he was a threat to community.”
The sheriff’s office added in the post:
Fink said bond was necessary to underscore the seriousness of the incident, which she said Le-Nguyen made the extremely bad choice of using a firearm in, M Live reported. Fink said Le-Nguyen was no flight risk but posed some possible danger to the community “not because you meant to have anything go wrong, but because you chose to behave in a way that was, in fact, dangerous.”
Savit admitted, in response to criticism that his office didn’t appropriately explain the justification for the $100,000 bond he pushed for, that more could have been done. “But we made the requests that we did and I think that the gravity of the charges that we saw fit to file reflected why we were seeking that bond,” the prosecutor said on Friday.