Murder Details Emerge in Pre-Trial Exam
By, Crystal A. Proxmire
Ferndale – Nineteen year old Bobby Prince McGowan smiled and talked over his shoulder to friends during breaks in his pre-trial exam in 43rd District Court on March 4, 2010. Judge Joseph Longo heard testimony from several young witnesses and a medical examiner before ordering McGowan to be held without bond pending trial in Oakland County Circuit Court on charges of open murder and other felonies in the December 19, 2009 shooting of two sixteen year old boys at the VFW Hall in Ferndale.
The shooting brought a tragic end to a sweet sixteen birthday party for two Ferndale High School students. One victim, Tyshaun Thompson of Royal Oak Township, lost three ribs and part of his liver when a shotgun slug entered his abdomen and exited his back. The shot then pierced the abdomen of his friend Charles "Chuckie" Andrew Dorchy of Detroit, who had been standing behind him. Dorchy died shortly after at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak due to a severed artery.
McGown, whose street name is “Bags,” will be tried for open murder, two counts possession of a firearm in a felony, assault with the intent to murder, and possession of a firearm by a felon. The defense argued that the murder was not pre-mediated, although Prosecutor John Skrzynski said “Just the fact that he brought a deadly weapon, loaded and ready to fire to this party” was enough to warrant the open murder charge. “The intent is evident in that it’s a point blank firing into a vital area,” he added. Longo agreed and ordered McGown held over without bond.
Several young witnesses testified in the pre-trial exam, shedding light on the gang-style activities leading up to the shooting. While the two birthday girls danced and played party games under the watchful eyes of parents, a group of four teens on Andover Street in Detroit was getting ready to crash the party.
Sixteen year old “Max” took the stand wearing a blue jumpsuit and chains, in police custody on unrelated charges. “My brother had come over and said ‘let’s go to a party. And we were all like ‘let’s go.’ After everybody was about to leave he [McGowan] goes back to the house to get the gun. I saw it in his sleeve, but I didn’t say nothin’.” The four teens then drove in a Silver Intrepid and parked in front of the VFW Hall at 177 Vester Street. Witnesses said that one or more of the boys wore black tee shirts that said “RIP DJ,” referring to McGowan’s brother who was murdered earlier last year.
Witnesses said the party was going fine until McGowan and three other young men arrived and began telling people they were from “State Fair.” Others at the party announced that they were from “Eight Mile.” Some witnesses reported seeing gang signs being flashed.
A 17 year old from Detroit who had come to the party with McGowan said that he and his friends had intended to meet a girl at the party and to go back to her house. He said he had no idea McGowan had brought a gun. “We were just dancing and having fun. A group was throwing up signals and getting all in our face and yelling out gang signs,” said the witness. “I heard a shot. We all bagged back and I saw two people wrestling on the ground.”
“That song ‘Plenty Money’ came on and someone with money was flaunting it,” said another young witness. “He threw money in the air and the person with the brown and tan coat reached down to his right and came up with a gun and shot,” he said. “I see Chuckie fly back, holding his stomach. He lands on the floor.”
Thompson testified he had gone to the kitchen to get something to drink, and was walking across the dance floor to meet up with friends. “When I got close, about two steps away from them, I looked down and I just saw fire come out. When I knew I was shot I ran back to the kitchen. I just felt blood and a hole,” he said. “I was laying in the kitchen. Some girl named Desiray was there with me, putting stuff on my side to stop bleeding. It was about 20 minutes with her then some officers came in, sittin’ on me telling me to stop moving. Then the guys came to put me in the ambulance.”
Chaos ensued as nearly 200 panicked teenagers ran to safety. After the shot went off, a 19 year old called “Ray” grabbed the man with the gun and wrestled it away. Several witnesses say that it was McGowan who pulled the trigger, or that they saw him fighting over the gun just after the shooting. An 18 year old called “Ray” said he was able to get the gun away and laid on the ground with it close to his chest as the teens from “State Fair” attacked him. Friends of “Ray” jumped in and the four party crashers ran off.
“Willy,” who had also come to the party with McGown, said that he was trying to leave when he got pulled into a fight. He said he made it outside and slipped on the snow, hitting his head on his car. Another witness said he followed the shooter and his friends outside, and bashed the teen’s head against the car in a scuffle. “Willy” said that once he and a friend made it back to Andover Street, they called for an EMS and he went to the hospital with a head injury.
The man who took the gun away from the shooter also testified. “Ray” told his version on the stand. “I’m standing behind them. One of the boys shot. He started back peddling and I grabbed him,” he said. “I just seen the flash and heard the pop. I was standing right behind the boy who took the shot. I grabbed him from behind, holding the gun against his chest. And got in a fight with three other boys. We tussled with the gun and when I got it they ran out of the party.”
“Ray” then hid the gun in his coat and put it in his friend’s car. “I went back in and saw Chuckie on the floor. Someone lifted his shirt and his intestines were hanging out. He wasn’t crying and he was talking.” “Ray” testified that he then drove to his friend’s house in Royal Oak Township and wiped the gun down for prints. He then wrapped it in a tee shirt and a black plastic bag, which he taped closed. He said that he didn’t want to be caught with a gun since he was on probation. He and his friend threw the gun on to the roof of the Royal Oak Township Recreation Center, then went to visit their injured friends at the hospital.
He said that he initially denied knowing anything about the shooting, but later told the police where to find the gun. “I was scared I was gonna catch another case,” “Ray,” who is on probation, said.
McGowan did not testify at the pre-trial exam, though he did smile and chat with friends who were there to show support. Police asked that witnesses not be identified, and Ferndale Police Lt. William Wilson said that witnesses are all “very young and scared – rightfully so.”
The Ferndale Police worked closely with other departments to solve the murder, including a gang violence group from Detroit, and detectives who used Facebook to track down suspects.