Update: Documents reveal new details in Zorkot case; Houssein Zorkot Dearborn resident and former medical student charged earlier this month with carrying a loaded AK-47 semi-automatic rifle in a public park
(Press & Guide) DEARBORN – New details have emerged in the case against 26-year-old Houssein Zorkot — a Dearborn resident and former medical student charged earlier this month with carrying a loaded AK-47 semi-automatic rifle in a public park.
According to documents obtained by the Press & Guide under the Freedom of Information Act, Zorkot was arrested about 8:04 p.m. Sept. 8 after police were contacted by three men who saw him carrying a firearm in the north end of Hemlock Park between Schaefer and Oakman.
Zorkot was allegedly dressed in dark clothing and wearing black face paint when officers approached his 2007 Ford Explorer, which was parked in a space near the tree line in the park’s west lot. The vehicle was already running, police said.
Officers approached the vehicle, which proceeded to pull out of the parking space and head northbound toward the park’s entrance. Police were able to block the vehicle in before it was able to leave the park.
When approached by officers, Zorkot opened the driver’s side door, but remained in the vehicle. He then asked officers why they had stopped him and said, “You guys are always harassing me.”
During the confrontation, officers saw Zorkot lower his right hand toward the center console, which was out of view. According to police reports, officers feared Zorkot was reaching for a weapon and grabbed his left wrist while ordering him to exit the vehicle.
An officer at the scene observed the AK-47 in the vehicle’s back seat, and alerted her fellow officers that he was armed. Zorkot was then forcibly removed from the vehicle through the driver’s side door — although he initially refused to let go of the door.
When he refused to release the door, officers struck Zorkot’s arm once with a plastic flashlight; however, he still refused to let go.
Officers used a Taser, which struck Zorkot between his shoulder blades. The electrical jolt caused him to fall to the ground, where he began rolling back and forth while yelling “Ali Ackbed.”
When Zorkot refused to comply with officers’ orders, he was stunned again and taken into custody. As police placed him into the back of a patrol vehicle, he allegedly said: “You think this is over? This is not over.”
Evidence technicians then searched his vehicle and found two pairs of cloth gloves; a military combat belt with a canteen and two knives; boots with socks; a receipt for the AK-47 rifle and ammunition; a gunlock and keys; a list of metropolitan Detroit shooting ranges; numerous photographs of Zorkot standing in front of a billboard depicting “various Muslim extremists;” a briefcase containing a laptop; and a cell phone.
Two cameras, a portable AM/FM radio, a pair of binoculars, four computer CDs, an Army surplus bag, a camouflage face paint kit, a Lebanese flag, a VCR cassette of “The Never Ending Story,” and eight prepaid international phone cards were also found inside the vehicle.
Based on the statements he made at time of his arrest, and the materials found inside his vehicle, a search warrant was issued for Zorkot’s home. Dearborn police have partnered with the FBI in Detroit to examine the items seized during that search.
Zorkot was arraigned Sept. 11 in 19th District Court on two felony charges — including one count of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent and one count felony firearm — as well as one count of possession of a loaded firearm, a misdemeanor. If convicted of the charges against him, Zorkot could be sentenced to up to nine years in prison.
Sept. 21, the Dearborn resident waived his right to a preliminary examination within 14 days of his arraignment. He is scheduled to return to court Nov. 9 after undergoing a psychological evaluation that will determine his competency and criminal responsibility in the case.
Calls to Zorkot’s attorney, Gerald J. Gleeson II, were not returned by the Press & Guide’s Friday deadline.
According to police, Zorkot does not have a criminal record and has not been identified as a terrorist. He has also not been linked to any terrorist group — including Hezbollah, which he openly supports on his Web site, http://www.zorkot.org.
“Expressing sympathy for something is not a crime and it does not make one a terrorist,” said Imad Hamad, regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
“We are still learning the facts in this case and it is important not to rush to judgment. Clearly, this was an unfortunate incident perpetrated by a disturbed individual — but I fear that some may try to use it to further anti-Arab and anti-immigrant sentiments. I pray that is not the case.”
Zorkot is of Lebanese descent, but has resided in Dearborn for several years with his father. His mother resides in Lebanon. Zorkot previously attended medical school at Wayne State University; however, the school has severed its ties with him following his arrest.
“He is no longer welcome on their campus,” said Dearborn Detective Sgt. Ronald Beggs.
The university has declined to comment on the case.
Zorkot remains in custody on a $1 million cash bond. The bond, which Gleeson argued was excessively high given the nature of the charges against his client, was set Sept. 11 by 19th District Judge Mark Somers and upheld Sept. 21 by Judge William Hultgren.
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