Suspect in metro Detroit workplace shootings was out on bond in assault case

TAYLOR, Mich. (WXYZ) - Police have confirmed it was 45-year-old Vernest James Griffin who is accused of murdering two men in two cities Thursday.

Keith Kitchen, 60, was shot and killed at B.S.D. Linehaul Michigan, a trucking company in Taylor, where Kitchen worked for his stepson. 

Then Griffin went to Pontiac and allegedly killed Eriberto Perez, 58, at the Aluminum Blanking Company where Perez worked. Griffin reportedly knew Perez through his work as a trucker.

"It's unbelievable that you can spend 500 dollars and go right back out on the street," said one man who did not want to use his name but works at B.S.D. 

He's talking about the $500 Griffin had to post to be released from jail in November after he was charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon for allegedly threatening several employees at B.S.D., including Kitchen, because he believed he was still owed money from his last paycheck.

Court records show a magistrate in Romulus set bond in that prior felony case at $5,000/10% which means Griffin only had to come up with $500 to be released from jail.

Those familiar with the case say it may have been because Griffin, who lives in Sterling Heights with his mother, had no prior criminal history.

Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Talon did not change Griffin's bond even after he'd been bound over for trial and failed to show up for his arraignment in circuit court on January 8.

A bench warrant was issued and Griffin was arraigned the next day. It's unclear why he had been a no-show.

A clerk for the judge relayed a message from him, indicating that he could not comment on the case to 7 Action News while it's pending.

Investigators say, on Thursday, Griffin may have planned to kill a third person. 

After the first two killings, Griffin allegedly went to Assured Trucking in Waterford where we're told he once worked, but the person who may have been his target there was not in and employees went into a lockdown and Griffin left. 

Griffin was later arrested in Waterford Township Police after a shootout with some of their officers. 

Griffin was shot, but he is expected to survive and face charges in the new cases. 

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