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Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers stands with the 1944 M20 armored vehicle that was impounded Thursday after a number of 911 calls. Detroit Free Press | Christina Hall

Armor-plated, firing vehicle spoils 4th; police are not amused

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A man driving an armor-plated military-type vehicle and firing what appeared to be a machine gun mounted on top caused a ripple of panic in suburban Detroit on the Fourth of July.

It turned out the weapon was a modified World War II .50-caliber machine gun that had been converted to fire compressed gas. It produced bright flashes and loud gunfire sounds as the driver, a man in his 40s, drove around Shelby Township.

Recordings of a series of 911 calls capture the fear of residents whose reports of the imposing sight sent officers swarming late Thursday. In one call, bangs similar to the sound of gunshots can be heard.

Police say they arrested the driver and confiscated his vehicle. He was released Friday and charges are pending.

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