GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —When Rodrick Shonte Dantzler raised a gun to his head after going on a deadly shooting spree, the bullet ended what those close to him described as a troubled life in which he frequently resorted to violence and often made threats against women and relatives.
Police say the 34-year-old ex-con targeted two former girlfriends in Thursday's rampage, fatally shooting both of them and five members of their families, including his own 12-year-old daughter. He also shot and wounded two other people — one of them another ex-girlfriend — while leading officers on a chase through Michigan's second-largest city.
"He went out hunting these people down. It was very much a purposeful act," Police Chief Kevin Belk said Friday, describing Dantzler as mentally unstable but saying he knew of no clinical diagnosis or motive for the killings.
Dantzler's rap sheet goes back to 1992, when he was charged as a juvenile with breaking and entering and car theft. That was followed over the next eight years by charges of trespassing, domestic violence, destruction of property, larceny and assault.
Dantzler's mother, who said her son set fire to her house when he was 18, was among four women who sought protective orders against him in the mid- to late 1990s.
"Rodrick has a very explosive temper and will act violently without thinking," Victoria Dantzler wrote in the petition filed in Kent County Circuit Court. "I've lived in fear of him hunting me down or worse, forcing me to hurt him in order to protect myself. I just wish for him to leave me alone."
Despite his record, neighbors on the tree-shaded street where Dantzler lived for the past couple of years described him as friendly and mild-mannered and said they were unaware of his criminal past.
"He seemed normal," said Jannelle Windemuller, who lived across the street and a few houses down from Dantzler's modest, lime-green house. He often frolicked in the grassy front yard with daughter Kamrie, who was killed in the rampage, and his two pit bulls. He would wave when driving or walking by, she said.