Patricia Stoppella


Patricia Stoppella


Patricia Stoppella was dating a Detroit Fireman in July of 1967. They spent the day on the river and came back to the city to find fires and National Guardsman.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Detroit Riots of 1967
It was July 1967 in a very hot & humid Detroit. I was 24 years old, dating a Detroit fireman. On that particular Sunday, a group of us went “down to the River” for a day of boating. Although the radio had been on all day, there was never a word mentioned about what was happening in the City. We were unaware of any problem until driving down Woodward Avenue. There was a National Guard on every street corner with their guns “at the ready”. The fellow driving in the car behind ours was shot! It was terrifying!
Remember … I was with a fireman. We saw a fire at the Boulevard just the other side of the John R Freeway, and drove to it. He couldn’t understand why there was no fire truck on the scene. (Later, we learned firemen were being shot when they responded to a call.) A group of rioters had gathered around the fire … they started rocking our car, chanting “burn, baby, burn”. It was terrifying!
Later that evening, a few blocks away, I heard gunfire from the Howard Johnson Motel (seen on tv). The shootings and gunfire destroyed the Motel.
I was staying with friends at 6 Mile and Woodward, as random shootings were not uncommon; and, the public was warned to stay inside. It was 3 days before I was able to get home. When my fireman went to work, he was shot at … the fellow next to him was hit.
The scuttlebutt at the time, was rioters from Pontiac would meet rioters from Detroit in the Northland parking lot, a shopping center, near my home. That did not happen.
I do not recall when the City went back to work. However, the first day back, as we were leaving the Argonaut Building (where I was employed), a sniper on the General Motors Building (across the street) was shooting at, and, trying to hit us.
I left Detroit the following February 1968.

Original Format


Submitter's Name

Patricia Stoppello

Submission Date





“Patricia Stoppella,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed February 24, 2024,

Output Formats