Relative’s death sparks hunt for ex-Michigan State star Keith Appling, police report says

DETROIT — Officers arrived at a shooting scene Saturday on the city’s northwest side to find a black revolver lying on the front lawn a few feet from a green Michigan State University ball cap, according to a police report obtained by The Detroit News. Moments later, a manhunt was on for former MSU basketball star Keith Appling, who allegedly fatally shot a relative on the front lawn of the victim’s home in the 3200 block of Whitcomb, dropped the pistol when another relative wrested it from him and ran away, according to the report. The shooting happened at about 7:10 p.m.

Saturday, police said. Appling was still being searched for Sunday, and Detroit police officials warned he is to be considered armed and dangerous. A relative ran into Appling earlier Saturday near Fenkell and Greenfield, according to the police report.

“(The relative) said they talked and he told Mr. Appling he was going to (another relative’s house),” and “Mr. Appling told him he would follow him over there,” the report said.

Appling’s relative went inside the house on the 13200 block of Whitcomb, leaving Appling and the 66-year-old victim outside. “(The relative) said he heard multiple gunshots so he went outside and he (saw) Mr. Appling ‘standing there with a stupid look on his face.’ He stated Mr.

Appling had a gun in his hand so he grabbed his arm and they began wrestling for the gun. “He got the gun away from Mr. Appling, but was tripped and Appling took off running,” the report said. “He went to put boots on so he could chase after him, but stopped because he observed (the victim) shot on the front lawn.”

After the shooting, the suspect fled in a newer model tan Buick Regal, said police, who described Appling as approximately 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. Another witness told police she was inside her house when she heard five or six gunshots. “(She) went outside and saw Mr. Appling standing in front of the home with a gun in his hand,” the report said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detroit Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (313) 596-2260 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP. A three-year-starter and former captain of the MSU basketball team, Appling has had multiple run-ins with law enforcement. He most recently pleaded guilty to a drug charge in October 2020 after police found heroin in his vehicle during a traffic stop in Macomb County.

He was sentenced to 18 months probation in November, and a warrant was issued for a probation violation on Feb.

16, Macomb County court records show. Before his sentencing, his attorney told the Macomb Daily that he believed his client had learned his lesson and was ready to live a clean life. “He’s a person who needs to cut ties with his past,” said Joe Arnone. “It’s time for him to grow up.

He’s still young. At a certain time you have to grow up and face reality. I think he gets that now.”

In 2017, Appling pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and resisting and obstructing a Detroit police officer during an unrelated traffic stop on Detroit’s east side. In that case, he was ordered to serve a year in jail and five years’ probation. As part of that sentencing agreement, two other criminal cases were dismissed.

Appling had been charged in two other gun cases, one in Detroit in June 2016 and another in Dearborn. He had been charged in two other gun cases, one in Detroit in June 2016 and another in Dearborn. In the Dearborn case, Appling was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors in connection with a May 1, 2016, incident at a Michigan Avenue nightclub after police found two guns in his vehicle.

The northwest neighborhood near Greenfield and Schoolcraft Road was quiet Sunday morning. All that could be heard was the sound of tires driving over the gravel as Whitcomb’s residential street is under construction. There was no crime tape or any indication of a fatal shooting.

Neighbors who were gardening and tuning up cars told The Detroit News they knew what happened but wouldn’t comment. A gas station attendant in the area said he knew the victim but also wouldn’t comment. Many fans took to social media Sunday for the latest updates, writing that they are holding out hope that identifying Appling was a mistake.

Most said they felt saddened for his future. Appling was the 2010 high school Mr. Basketball award-winner after leading Detroit Pershing to a state championship in 2009.

He scored a state-record 49-points in the title game and was named a McDonald’s All-American after his senior season. He played at MSU from 2010 to 2014, starting in 123 games and was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree in 2012-13 and was given an honorable mention in 2013-14. He appeared in five games for the Orlando Magic in 2015-16 and played in parts of two seasons in what was then-known as the NBA D-League.

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