Dearborn, Dearborn Heights Year in Review

Photo by Steve Wielkopolan. Tens of thousands of people enjoyed excellent weather and jammed the 37th annual Dearborn Homecoming Aug. 5 to 7 at Ford Field Park. Above, Ann Arbor’s Laith Al-Saadi jams for a packed house as the festival headliner Aug. 6. Al-Saadi recently was a Top 4 performer on NBC’s “The Voice,” and his most recent album, “REAL,” topped the blues charts for five weeks.

Photo by Steve Wielkopolan. Tens of thousands of people enjoyed excellent weather and jammed the 37th annual Dearborn Homecoming Aug. 5 to 7 at Ford Field Park. Above, Ann Arbor’s Laith Al-Saadi jams for a packed house as the festival headliner Aug. 6. Al-Saadi recently was a Top 4 performer on NBC’s “The Voice,” and his most recent album, “REAL,” topped the blues charts for five weeks.

Times-Herald Newspapers

Here’s a look back at the middle third of 2016 and the news that shaped Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.


Crestwood School District voters narrowly approved a $35 million bond by a 1,629 to 1,542 vote May 3. The bond will be used for technology, safety, property and infrastructure updates throughout the district.

Dearborn Heights District 7 voters renewed the district’s 4.66 sinking fund millage with a 609-351 vote. Funds raised will be used for new roofing, pool repairs, replacing drinking fountains and lighting and updates for the media center, science labs, classroom and athletic department.

Ex-Michigan State University basketball star Keith Appling, 24, was arraigned in front of 19th District Court Judge William Hultgren for firearm felony charges May 4. He faced carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle and possession of marijuana charges. Police were called to The Pantheion Club, 12900 Michigan Ave., May 1 after Appling was seen pulling a firearm from the trunk of his vehicle in the parking lot.

The Crestwood Board of Education approved the formation of an Arab American student union May 9 after months of rejection. Students plan to meet weekly to celebrate their heritage, volunteer in the community and empower the youth.

The Dearborn Heights Police K9 Unit lost a member of its team after German shepherd Chase died during stomach surgery May 9. Chase served the department from 2009 to 2016 where he was used for handler protection, narcotic detection, assistance to neighboring agencies, building searches, school demonstrations, crowd control and suspect apprehensions.

HYPE Recreation Center announced it is planning to build a new rehab center for the community May 10. The 15,000-square-foot facility will include services and treatment for substance abuse and violence, testing and triage and possibly housing for short- and long-term patients.

The body of Dearborn resident Harry “Henry” Fishwick, 62, was found and removed by the Downriver Underwater Search and Rescue Team from the Rouge River May 13. His belongings were found near Michigan Avenue and Telegraph Road leading officers to the golf course. Fishwick was last seen May 8 leaving his house in the area of Michigan Avenue and Telegraph Road walking.

Sports Authority announced May 20 that it will be closing its Dearborn location along with 460 stores across the country. Locations in Auburn Hills, Clinton Township and Flint are all scheduled to close after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March because of the increase of online shopping and over $1 billion in debt.

The ACCESS to School program celebrated the launch of its first book on May 24 after being chosen by the United Way for a book series. As for the book, “ACCESS to School” explains the two generation approach to school readiness for local refugee and immigrant families, and aims to educate service providers, education professionals and nonprofit organizations about innovative local programming.


Toys R Us, 24411 Michigan Ave. closed its doors in early June after it announced the sale of the property in May. The property was sold to Michigan and Telegraph Ventures, LLC, in Birmingham.

The Beaumont Center for Exceptional Families, 18501 Rotunda Drive, installed a new sensory garden filled with flowers, plants and wind chimes for special needs patients June 9. The garden was made possible because of a grant received from Ford Motor Co. Fund and Community Services as part of its 2016 Capital Grant Program.

Dearborn parents Amber Johnson and James Johnson III were arraigned on homicide second degree murder, homicide involuntary manslaughter and second degree child abuse charges for the death of their 2-year-old daughter. The parents appeared in 19th District court on June 10 after the drowning occurred in a neighbor’s pool while they were sleeping on June 4.

Dearborn Public Schools trustees unanimously approved to rename the B Hall at Fordson High School as the William K. and Delores S. Brehm Hallway. The change was suggested during a board meeting June 13 by Fordson graduate Ali Nasrallah to honor the Brehms’ generosity to the school.
As of June 18, Molina Healthcare began overseeing the Midwest Medical Center’s services and after acquiring the urgent care facility. Molina took over the multi-speciality clinic, full service lab with diagnostics capability, radiology including ultrasound and mammogram and the physical therapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation services.

Christine Stevenson, 62, of Inkster was charged June 26 with the death of Dearborn Heights resident Darrin Robertson, 50, in a vehicle crash. The June 24 three-vehicle crash occurred at the intersection of Van Born and Beech Daly when Stevenson ran a red light which caused Robertson to eject from his vehicle’s sunroof.

State Rep. Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) died after suffering a heart attack during a hike in Oregon June 25. The 54-year-old was hiking with two of her three daughters at the time. Plawecki was serving her first term in the 11th District which covers parts of Dearborn Heights, Westland and Livonia and all of Garden City and Inkster.

D7 janitor Theresa Ely was granted $193,000 in lost wages and damages by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration June 29 after she was exposed to asbestos. The initial incident occurred in the summer of 2012 at Annapolis High School when she and another janitor, Rob Smith, were asked to dry sand floor tiles. Both janitors discovered that they had been exposed to asbestos through cleaning the tiles.


Former longtime Dearborn Historical Museum Chief Curator Winfield Arneson died July 1 at the age of 86. He began working at the museum in 1960 as curator of research, and retired in 2002 as chief curator. During his time, the Commandant’s Quarters was renovated and the museum underwent multiple expansions.

The 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization selected Inkster City Councilman Jewell Jones to replace Plawecki on the Aug. 2 primary ballot July 7.

Dearborn resident Ashan Alwatan, 26, was shot in the head and killed after an argument broke out at a Detroit gas station near Warren Avenue and Southfield Freeway July 17. Alwatan, along with a second man were sitting in a silver Dodge Ram when a black Cadillac Escalade pulled up beside them and the fight began.

The Automotive Hall of Fame announced its plans to move from its current Dearborn location to Detroit during the organization’s induction ceremony July 21. Automotive Hall of Fame President William Chapin said the change in location “aims to reflect the city’s automotive history and to participate in Detroit’s revival.”

Thomas Czapiewski, 32, of Dearborn Heights was charged July 22 with second-degree murder for the July 20 stabbing of 20-year-old Detroit resident Jalen Davis. The two were at Czapiewski’s girlfriend’s house when an argument broke out where Czapiewski allegedly stabbed Davis in the neck.

Courtney Purvis of Dearborn was stabbed and struck in the face with a glass bottle outside of Post Bar, 22065 Michigan Ave., July 28. Purvis told police another bar patron made derogatory remarks about her and an argument ensued.

A Dearborn Heights woman Laura Tabaka was killed in a vehicle crash near 12 Mile Road and Beck in Wixom on Jul 28. She was a passenger in a Ford Escape that collided with the semi-truck pulling a trailer.

Dearborn Heights Police Cpl. Scott Keller rescued 7-year-old Yusuff Salem from an apartment fire in the 6800 block of Country Lane July 29. Keller arrived on the scene just before firefighters after a fire broke out in the kitchen and was able to save Salem from the top of the stairs.


During the Aug. 2 primary election, 19th District Court Judge candidates Gene Hunt and Susan Dabaja won the two positions for the Nov. 8 election over Abbie Bazzi. Residents voted for Democrat Abdullah Hammoud and Republican Terrance Gerin to face off for the 15th District state House seat, and a temporary 3.5-mill supplemental millage called Proposal 1 was renewed by voters.

Dearborn Heights police arrested a man Aug. 4 after finding more than 100 marijuana plants growing inside his mother’s house. Officers were in 25000 block of Rouge River Drive on a call for an alarm at a neighbor’s house in the early morning when they discovered the operation. More than 100 marijuana plants were found in the backyard and inside the house.

The family of Janet Wilson filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Dearborn and the Dearborn Police Department Aug. 4 over the Detroit woman’s death on Jan. 27. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan to U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman by Attorney Vince Colella for the shooting by a Dearborn officer near Fairlane Town Center.

Randy Montante, 24, was in the Eastern District of Michigan Court Aug. 10 for allegedly enticing a 13-year-old to send sexually explicit photos and videos online. He faced charges for producing and receiving child pornography and engaging in the online enticement of a minor. The mother of the 13-year-old girl from Bayonne, N.J., said the relationship with Montante started in February on various social media networks.

While canoeing and swimming in the Huron River, Dearborn resident Abdulrahman Labak, 14, died saving his sister when she began to drown on Aug. 11. The Washtenaw County dive team was able to find Labak about 4:22 p.m. and emergency responders attempted CPR before transporting him to Mott Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Mohammad Hamdan, 24, pleaded guilty Aug. 15 to lying about his travel plans to the Middle East and joining a designated foreign terrorist group. The initial incident occurred in March 2014 when Hamdan was arrested before boarding his flight at Wayne County Detroit Metropolitan Airport when he stated his reason for travel was “to get his teeth fixed” in Lebanon.

During a court appearance on Aug. 15, Dearborn resident Ali Mohamad-Sahrif Al-Aboosi, 45, was sentenced to three years of probation and placed on the Michigan’s public sex offender registry for sexually assaulting a woman in Canton Township. He faced one count of assault with intent to commit sexual penetration and one count of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct with a 10-year and two-year prison sentence, respectively, if convicted. On April 12, Al-Aboosi allegedly picked up a woman near the intersection of Ford and Telegraph roads after she responded to a job for cleaning houses where he allegedly assaulted her.

The murder conventions for Lavere Bryant, the man found guilty for killing two Family Dollar employees was overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals. In the 3-0 decision posted by the court on Aug. 23, it also calls for a new trial because “the combination of sexual harassment testimony with defendant’s prior convictions and arrest to prove a sexual assault that was not determinative to the charges and of which there was no physical evidence was highly prejudicial and confused the relevant and material issues of the case” according to the court’s opinion.

Dearborn Heights residents Heidi Fox, 23, and Samantha Fox, 19, were killed when their vehicle ran a red light and crashed into a semi-trailer truck Aug. 25 at the intersection of Beech Daly and Van Born. The vehicle went under the truck and was dragged 200 yards from the intersection.

Divine Child High School officially opened its new Alumni Athletic Complex Aug. 26 and hosted it first true home football game. The complex features a multi-purpose synthetic playing field, stadium seating for 1,800, an eight-lane running track, long jump, pole vault, and discus and shot-put circles. Team locker rooms, scoreboard, lighting for night games, offices, restrooms were also included.

Mohammad Hazime, 19, of Dearborn Heights died Aug. 28 after he struck a vehicle while driving his motorcycle on Warren Avenue about 12:30 a.m. Police responded to the intersection of Warren Avenue and Jonathan where their investigation revealed that the speed was a clear factor in the crash.

The city of Dearborn Heights purchased its first house in the city’s Ecorse Creek flood zone for demolition Aug. 31. Dearborn Heights residents Brian and Deb Lauer were the first to sell their house to the city under the project. City officials applied for the $2.8 million Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant after the August 2014 flood to address the flooding.

(Next month, September to December.)