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Clinton Township Police Lt. honored for safely ending standoff with gunman

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: October 4, 2022


Photo by Clinton Township Police Capt. Anthony Coppola
POLC Deputy Director Jim Stachowski (front row, center) presents Clinton Township Police Lt. Joe Fix (front right) with the 2022 POLC Outstanding Service Award at his department surrounded by Local President Lt. Brandon Blake (front left) and Special Response Team members.

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Clinton Township Police Lt. Joe Fix was honored with the 2022 Police Officers Labor Council Outstanding Service Award (OSA) for safely ending an intense standoff with a barricaded gunman that involved evacuating residents, a potential fire, hindered communications, and extreme weather conditions.

His exemplary service was recognized during the POLC/GELC Annual Conference in Traverse City on Sept. 16.

Lt. Fix remained intensely focused despite a 7-1/2-hour standoff with a gunman at Klix Manor Apartments on Aug. 12, 2021. Despite numerous obstacles, he was able to disarm the suspect with one shot. No civilians or officers were injured during the incident.

Photo courtesy of Clinton Township Police
Clinton Township Police Lt. Joe Fix was awarded the 2022 POLC Outstanding Service Award for ending a standoff with a gunman.

“Lt. Fix did not allow distractions to get in the way of performing his duties,” said POLC Director Rob Figurski. “Without hesitation, his perfect shot ended the standoff. The POLC is proud to represent him.”

“It’s a wonderful surprise,” Fix said of receiving the OSA Award. “I’m very grateful.”

The incident began around 12:35 a.m. on the 35500 block of Klix when David Morris, 61, pointed a long gun at complex residents. A Sergeant at the time, Fix responded as part of the Clinton Township Special Response Team (CTSRT).

“He was threatening citizens on the premises of the apartment building,” Fix said. “Officers did see him outside and he ran inside (his apartment) when police arrived.”

After a briefing with the Crisis Negotiations Team, CTSRT members took their positions and began evacuating residents from nearby apartments. The Crisis Negotiations Team established phone contact, but Morris’ phone died. Severe thunderstorms were rolling through the area, causing further communications issues between law enforcement personnel.

“You could not make rhyme or reason of what he was saying,” Fix said of the suspect. “They were on the phone with him a couple hours. During all of the screaming you could maybe make out a couple words.”

Throughout the incident, Morris pointed a long gun through the blinds of the sliding door toward police. St. Clair Shores Police used their armored vehicle to re-establish contact with Morris in front of the residence. Around 8:05 a.m., Morris exited his apartment pointing the gun at the armored vehicle. “He leveled a rifle at the SWAT team as they were assembled at the corner of the building,” Fix said.

That’s where Fix’s police sniper training kicked in.

“Almost simultaneously, Sgt. Joe Fix discharged his firearm striking the suspect in the head,” wrote Clinton Township Police Chief Dina Caringi in her POLC Outstanding Service Award nomination letter. “Sgt. Fix had various officers, the MRAP vehicle and various patrol vehicles in his path. Sgt. Fix maneuvered himself into a great shooting position, with a very limited shooting platform in a very high stress incident and executed the plan to perfection.”

Morris immediately went down, dropping his weapon. Three Clinton Township Lieutenants provided first aid and called an ambulance. He was transported to the hospital and later recovered.

“During the entirety of this incident, officers were met with various barriers that as a team were overcome,” Caringi wrote. “The suspect was in a building with approximately 10 other people who had to be safely evacuated. Officers observed a flame inside the suspect’s residence and could smell gas coming from inside the building, which led us to believe he was going to try to burn down the apartment building. Officers were initially unsure if there were any victims or hostages in this residence. During the entire incident, there was a large thunderstorm and a downpour of rain causing numerous radios to not function properly, which inhibited communication.”

“I had to rely on my military training and background,” Fix said of his ability to focus. “You have to have a lot of self-discipline and patience. I was the only one with the precision weapon for the single shot. You have to appreciate the position you’re given and the importance of it. There is no room for taking a break or complaining about the rain.”

A former Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army, Fix served seven years with the Detroit Police Department. Promoted to Clinton Township Police Lieutenant, he oversees one of the platoons in the Operations Division. He is a mentor with Veteran’s Court, a probation program that pairs veterans who have committed offenses, often involving substance abuse, with Veteran Mentors to help them successfully complete the program.

Macomb County Sheriff’s Office determined the shooting was justifiable, Caringi said. Morris underwent a mental health evaluation and was charged with: false report or threat of terrorism; assault/resist/obstructing police officers; assault and battery; false report or threat of bomb/harmful device and wearing body armor during the commission of a violent felony. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

“He had run-ins with our department and the Sheriff’s Department when he lived in the City of Mount Clemens,” Caringi said. “It seemed like a pattern – when intoxicated he became disorderly.”

Lt. Fix was also honored by his department, receiving a Meritorious Conduct Award and was named 2021 Clinton Township Police Officer of the Year.