Court hears second day of Bar 7 shooting testimony, judge reduces bond
SOUTHFIELD — Through tears, the family of brothers Alonzo Beckom and Carlos Beckum watched as Judge Shelia Johnson announced a bond reduction for the two men detained in connection with a shooting at a local bar.
The brothers appeared before Johnson March 22 in 46th District Court for a continuation of their probable cause hearing from Feb. 15.
Beckom, 21, and Beckum, 24, both of Detroit, were arrested Dec. 1 in connection with a Nov. 19 shooting at Bar 7, 24528 W. 12 Mile Road.
Police say the men are responsible for shooting three men during an altercation at the bar. The injuries were not considered life-threatening.
At their arraignment Dec. 2 in front of Magistrate Robin Dillard-Russaw, the men were charged with three counts of assault with intent to murder, three counts of felony firearm and one count of discharge of a firearm in an occupied building. Bond was set at $500,000 cash or surety during the arraignment.
On Feb. 15, Detective Michael Morrish, of the Southfield Police Department, was the first and only person to testify. Morrish told the court that he obtained surveillance video from inside and outside the establishment.
Morrish said he works as a digital forensic examiner at the Southfield Police Department, examining cellphones, computers and information systems for the department.
The surveillance video appears to show Beckom and Beckum entering the building, an altercation that leads to the shooting, the men firing the shots, people falling to the floor, and the two men exiting the building, Morrish said.
On March 22, the first witness to testify was a man who said he was shot at Bar 7 on Nov. 19.
The witness told the court that he was at the establishment, sitting by the door, waiting for a food order around 12:30 a.m.
The witness said he had only been there for about five minutes when he heard two or three shots coming from his left. He said he was knocked from his chair by the crowd fleeing from the shots, and he ran into the men’s bathroom.
In the bathroom, he said, he encountered two women who were uninjured. It was then that he realized he had been shot.
“I said, ‘I’m fine, but my leg hurts a little bit.’ I looked down and I saw a puddle of blood on my left foot,” the witness said.
The man was transported to a local hospital, where a bullet was removed from his upper rear thigh, he told the court.
Morrish was called to the stand to continue his testimony from the first hearing. He said he saw two of the men who had been involved in the altercation at the hospital to obtain their cellphones. Morrish told the court he was in the room with investigators while they were interviewing the men, but he did not participate in the interviews, nor did he take notes, make any type of recording or inspect their clothes.
The defense team revisited the surveillance video shown in court previously, although this time it was significantly slowed down.
Morrish said the video appears to show Beckom walking past a group of six men toward the bathroom. The men have a face-to-face interaction with Beckom, Morrish said, and on his way back from the bathroom, Beckom walks by the group with his back to them. Words are then again exchanged as a member of the group approaches Beckom, who starts to walk away.
As Beckom is walking, Morrish testified, the video appears to show one of the men approach Beckom, then a second man approaches. Punches are exchanged, and Beckom goes out of frame. Morrish said that during that time, Beckom could have presumably fallen to the ground.
When the first shot is fired, Beckom is not in frame, although Beckum is in frame. Gun smoke can be seen in the air.
Another segment of video appears to show Beckom shooting at the group while backing out toward the door.
Morrish said the video only shows Beckom pulling out a gun when he was attacked, and Beckum did not fire his gun until his brother was attacked. The time between the first punch and the shots fired was four seconds, Morrish said.
The defense team took issue with the fact that Morrish was present in the hospital room while officers were interviewing the men involved in the altercation.
Attorney David Rosenberg, representing Beckum, asked Morrish several times if he discussed the surveillance video with any of the investigators.
Morrish said he shared the video with investigators, but it was not discussed and he doesn’t know what the men told investigators.
Rosenberg grilled Morrish on whether the video was discussed with investigators in several questions, particularly the portion of the video where one of the men from the group involved appears to throw the first punch.
“You didn’t see a need to clue in the officers in charge of the case?” Rosenberg asked Morrish.
“The officer in charge of this case was given a copy of the video,” Morrish said.
“I’m asking if you discussed it with him, sir. That’s all I’m asking,” Rosenberg said.
“No, I didn’t,” Morrish testified.
The next witness to testify was one of the men involved in the altercation. The man said he was at Bar 7 the night of the shooting to meet up with “three or four friends there.”
The man told the court that he does not remember words being exchanged between his group and Beckom. He said he remembers being shot, however, and talking to people he was with, but he does not remember the specifics of the incident.
When asked about what was shown on the surveillance video, the man said he saw his friend “socking” Beckom, but he himself never hit Beckom.
The man said he then ran because he heard a gunshot. He was shot from behind, in the back of his upper thigh, he said.
“I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on because I was minding my own business,” he testified.
Johnson said that due to time constraints, the man is due back in court next month to finish his testimony. The man appeared agitated, and Johnson warned him against any outbursts.
During the hearing, defense attorney Neil Rockind, representing Beckom, asked Johnson if she would consider lowering the bond for his client.
Rockind argued, as he had during the men’s last hearing, that the brothers were acting in self-defense.
“I think of all the things I imagine about what the allegations were, and none of that has proved to be true. It’s not a case of two young guys who walk into a bar and shoot it up or some gangland dispute or some fight over a girl,” Rockind said. “The testimony is that Carlos Beckum never pulled out a gun and fired a gun until he saw his brother under attack. There could be some quarrel with how much under attack he was.”
Johnson warned the crowd against any outbursts, stating that offenders would have to pay a fine if they disrupted her courtroom.
Bond was dropped to $100,000, Johnson decided. She ordered the men to not have contact with any of the police officers involved in the case, any shooting victims or any Bar 7 employees.
The men will wear a tether through the duration of their trial, and they cannot use any drugs or alcohol, she said.
While the bond reduction was risky, Johnson said, she believes the public is not in immediate danger.
“I do have a concern because I have young men that are licensed to carry weapons that either reacted or overreacted — and that’s not clear. I don’t know what they might do if presented in another circumstance. I don’t think it’s of the level that I thought it was, so I’m going to change the bond,” Johnson said. “There’s no reason to believe they won’t appear. They have family support. They do have residences. They do have jobs.”
The hearing is slated to continue with more witness testimony at 1:30 p.m. April 19.