Detroit interstate shooting that killed 2-year-old was case of mistaken identity: Prosecutors

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021
2-year-old killed on Detroit interstate in case of mistaken identity
Brison was obsessed with SpongeBob Squarepants, Fruity Pebbles and Oreos, and loved to talk to strangers, his father, said.

DETROIT, Mich. -- Two young men have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 2-year-old Brison Christian on a Detroit interstate, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Darius Evonte Lanier, 19, and Eugene Meredith Hubbard, 21, allegedly mistook the family for someone else based on the make and color of the truck, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said.

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Brison was obsessed with SpongeBob Squarepants, Fruity Pebbles and Oreos, and loved to talk to strangers, his father, Brian Christian, told ABC News Tuesday.

"Every day that goes by, especially now that we're finalizing funeral arrangements ... every step we move forward, it feels like somebody's stabbing me in the side with a knife," Christian said.

Brison, his parents and his 9-year-old brother BJ were in their truck on Interstate 75 after BJ's basketball practice Thursday night when they heard gunfire, according to prosecutors.

"I looked out my side window and I seen somebody hanging out the window with a gun," Christian said.

Christian pulled over and saw Brison shot in the head and BJ shot in the arm, prosecutors said.

"I just lost it," he said.

Brison, the nephew of a Detroit police officer, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

BJ was hospitalized in serious condition and later released, police said.

"He loved his little brother, words don't even explain," Christian said. "He's holding it together a lot better than I would."

The suspects allegedly fled the scene and were arrested on Saturday, prosecutors said.

"The Christian family were completely innocent victims," prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement Tuesday.

Detroit interim Police Chief James White on Tuesday announced a new initiative called Operation Brison, in which Detroit police will work with neighboring agencies to patrol the freeways for road rage and other acts of violence.

"This is unacceptable," White said at a news conference. "We will never forget little Brison. We will never forget what happened to him."

The interim chief vowed to use all technology available to "constitutionally get violent offenders off the street."

"If you do a drive-by," White said, "we have over 100 crime analysts ... we're going to pull video from every source we can ... we're going to identify who's doing this violence."

Besides first-degree murder, Lanier and Hubbard are also charged with three counts of assault with intent to murder, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing death, one count of discharge from a vehicle causing injury, two counts of discharge from a vehicle and eight counts of felony firearm, prosecutors said.

They were arraigned Tuesday afternoon and are due back in court July 6, prosecutors said.