Rachel and Rebecca Lanis
Rachel and Rebecca Lanis

“Jewish Family Service’s crisis support team mobilized as soon as we heard the news and have already been able to provide some outreach in the community and provide crisis intervention and support.”

The Metro Detroit Jewish community reacted with grief, shock and horror as well as an outpouring of generosity as it learned about the Sept. 11 murder of longtime Jewish Senior Life employee Tina Lanis, 56, by her husband, Igor Lanis, 53, who was fatally shot by police when he fired at them outside of the family’s Walled Lake home.

Igor also killed the family dog and shot his daughter, Rachel Lanis, 25, who is recovering in the hospital from shots to her spine and legs. The couple’s younger daughter Rebecca, 21, who was visiting a friend at the time of the murder and not at home, has told multiple media outlets that her father’s behavior had radically changed since the 2020 election, and he had immersed himself in conspiracy theories he had found on the internet. Both the sisters are alumnae of Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills.

“Jewish Family Service’s crisis support team mobilized as soon as we heard the news and have already been able to provide some outreach in the community and provide crisis intervention and support,” said Jewish Family Service youth mental health coordinator Julia Cohen, who is one of the co-leaders of the team.

News of Tina’s murder hit especially hard among staff and clients at Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit, where she worked for the past 16 years as a certified occupancy specialist, providing the Russian-speaking residents assistance with rental applications and government-required documentation, according to JSL Chief Executive Officer Nancy Heinrich.

“We informed our staff of her sudden and tragic passing and provided Trauma Response Team Intervention counseling to staff and residents through the generosity of Jewish Family Service,” said Heinrich. “Tina was a much-beloved employee. Her professionalism, compassion and warmth were appreciated by all her co-workers and residents, who considered her a trusted friend and essential support. She will be sorely missed by all.”

To offset the medical bills and other expenses the sisters will endure as they cope with the violent death of both their parents, the family set up a GoFundMe page which at press time has received over $33,000 in donations, including a $1,000 donation from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Donations can be mead on the GoFundMe website.

On the page, Rebecca Lanis, wrote: “On Sept. 11, 2022, I lost my mother, father and dog in a fatal shooting perpetrated by my father. My older sister was seriously wounded and remains in the hospital. She was shot in the spine and the back of her legs, and doctors are unsure if she will ever be able to walk again. Any support provided will assist me in paying my sister’s medical bills and will help us get back on our feet after this horrific tragedy.”

Federation CEO Steven Ingber described the tragedy as “a heartbreaking incident” and extended deepest condolences to the Lanis family.

“Federation has contributed to the GoFundMe campaign. We also reached out to the family, through our partners at (JFS) to help. JFS resources are available to anyone who is affected by this tragedy. No one should feel alone in trying to process this shocking situation,” Ingber said.

According to reports from Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, county law enforcement officials joined Walled Lake Police responding to a shots-fired call from Glenwood Court in Walled Lake around 4:11 a.m. Sunday. The caller was later identified as Rachel, who told dispatchers her father had just shot her and her mother Tina. Emergency dispatchers arrived at the scene within five minutes.

As they were on foot in the area, deputies heard a gunshot and approached the house. Igor exited from the front door and fired at a Walled Lake officer with a Remington 870 shotgun, striking a marked patrol car, another vehicle and a residence behind him. No one was injured from those shots. A Walled Lake officer and a sheriff’s deputy returned fire and killed Igor.

Tina was found dead inside the home and had been shot at least four times with a handgun.

Buchard’s office continues to investigate. As part of this ongoing investigation, they are seeking insight into what triggered the violence.

At the home, detectives retrieved the cell phone and other electronic devices belonging to Lanis to see if they help determine a possible motive.

On a telephone interview with the JN, Oakland County Sherriff Communications Officer Steven Huber said he could not comment on whether more guns were in the home or whether the father legally purchased the gun or had a gun permit owner’s license.

Anyone finding difficulty grieving or coping with the trauma of this tragedy can contact the JFS Resource Center at (248) 592-2313. To donate to the family, visit https://tinyurl.com/mtzyee4p.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rachel Lanis had recently started writing for the Jewish News. Her first essay, published in July, is titled “The Jewish Dilemma.” Read it at https://thejewishnews.com/2022/07/28/essay-the-jewish-dilemma.

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Stacy Gittleman is an award-winning journalist and has been a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News for the last five years. Prior to moving to Metro Detroit in 2013, she was a columnist and feature writer for Gannett's Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. She also manages social media pages for other local non-profit organizations including the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Contact her with breaking news and feature story ideas that impact Detroit's Jewish community at stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com