Sunday, July 8, 2012

Detroit, MI: Man kills girlfriend, then himself during police chase in Detroit

Authorities said a man released from prison this year fatally beat and shot his girlfriend and then -- with officers from two departments in high-speed pursuit -- took his own life early Tuesday.

The tragedy stunned the family of Shawanda Spratling, 33, who had been secretly dating the man whom her father warned years ago to stay away from her, her father Fred Spratling said.

"It must've been 10 years ago -- I chased him out of this house myself," said Fred Spratling, 55, whose daughter lived with him in northwest Detroit.

On Monday night, "she sneaked out of the house to see him," Spratling said Thursday. His daughter's body was found on Elmira Street at Ohio, less than a block from the family's home, he said.

Police believe she was killed between 5:30 and 6 a.m., after which, 35-year-old Larry Crawford went on a crime spree, Spratling said.

Police said they believe his motive was to gather get-away money. Crawford was released from prison in January after serving time for assault, arson, felonious use of a firearm and resisting arrest, according to Michigan Department of Corrections records.

"After he shot my daughter, he robbed three restaurants, and the Southfield police ended up chasing him back into Detroit," Spratling said. With Southfield and Detroit squad cars in pursuit, Crawford fatally shot himself with his handgun while driving on Freeland in Detroit, Detroit police said.

His death was ruled a suicide from a bullet fired under his chin and up into his skull, a technician for the Wayne County Medical Examiner said Thursday.

Funeral services for Shawanda Spratling are expected to be held Tuesday but have not been set. She was the niece of Free Press staff writer Cassandra Spratling.

"Shawanda was caring, loving and always the live wire of the party," her sister Kyra Spratling, 31, said Thursday. Although Shawanda didn't have any children, Krya's 9-year-old son "was like her son -- they were inseparable," she said.

Family members have known Crawford, a former neighbor, for two decades, she said. Shawanda's death left her family grief-stricken, her father said.

But as family members gathered at his home, Fred Spratling said he had found one consolation in the tragedy: Crawford's demise.

"I'm glad he's gone -- I can say that," he said.

Visitation for Shawanda Spratling will be from 3-9 p.m. Monday at Swanson Funeral Home, 14751 W. McNichols, Detroit. Services will take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 2260 Hunt at Chene, Detroit.

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