Experts: Legal system failed to protect community from suspect in overnight crime spree

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 16:09:49-04

He spent nearly 12 hours terrorizing victims on a rampage across Wayne County. 

Some were shot, others were kidnapped and carjacked. 

Experts say the legal system failed to protect the community, and hold the courts accountable for releasing the violent offender from jail.

One of Allen Farris' victims, who didn't want to be identified, described the chilling moments his home was struck with gunfire.

"He was very calm as a cucumber and very deliberate," he said. "It seemed as if this wasn't his first rodeo. It wasn't his first time doing this."

On April 3, 56-year-old Farris was released from Wayne County Jail on bond. A lengthy rap sheet didn't stop a magistrate from granting him his freedom for just 2,500. 

"We didn't know the dollar amount," the victim said. "We only had heard he had been released the day before. We were kind of shocked."

In the 12 hours that Farris was out on the streets, witnesses say he found a handgun and shot Heather Lombardo during an attempted carjacking. 

The young mother has since launched a GoFundMe page to help cover hospital bills after her release.

Another woman was also shot during a carjacking. Police say he also tied up and kidnapped another woman in Northville Township during a different carjacking, but she managed to escape in Highland Park. 

Farris also attempted to carjack an undercover state trooper, which led to a shootout. His own family said they were stunned by the mayhem after he was later found dead from a gunshot wound in Detroit. 

His criminal history includes charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and assault dating back three decades. Most recently, Farris was charged again with felonious assault and malicious destruction of property.

"The bottom line is, it's concerning," said Detroit Police Chief James Craig. "I understand the purpose of bail, but we have to give weight to the impact that releasing someone on low bail has on public safety."

Former DPD officer and longtime attorney David A. Robinson said if there is a violent history, the judge has to take that into consideration.

The prosecutor's office said they requested a bond higher than $2,500 back on March 23. Nancy Blount, the 36th District Court Chief Judge said she did not have time to talk to 7 Action News, instead issuing a statement referencing the court's decision, reading in part:

“He had a prior criminal history, but his prior convictions arose from a single transaction in 1986, more than thirty years ago.  Mr. Farris had been discharged from parole in 2008, ten years ago. Given this history, the bond set by Magistrate Echartea was not unreasonable.”

"Do you look at something like that and say we need to learn from this, so it doesn't keep happening? Absolutely," Robinson said.

There is also the question of a mental health evaluation, something the judge could have ordered before releasing Farris but never did. 

"It certainly could've been something a judge has the discretionary call to do," Robinson said. "The system is broken as it relates to treatment of the mentally ill. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The key is sustained treatment."

For his victims, Farris left an enormous path of both physical and emotional harm in his wake. To this day, they're left wondering why he did what he did, and why no one saw this coming.

"We don't want anyone else to end up in the same situation we were in," the victim said. "It's a horrible experience to go through for anyone."

Michigan State Police still haven't disclosed whether there were drugs in Farris' system at the time of his death. They're also still investigating if he took his own life, or was killed by police gunfire. Autopsy results are expected in the next several weeks.