Man charged with ramming gate at Coast Guard station


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A man claimed he had a bomb, crashed a pickup truck through the gate of the U.S. Coast Guard facility in Grand Haven and then assaulted a Coast Guard member early Sunday morning, authorities say.

Matthew Krueger, 33, of Mears, Mich. is charged with a felony count of false report or threat of terrorism and a felony count of malicious destruction of property over $1,000, according to a Monday afternoon release from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

“I don’t have anything to say,” he told the judge during Monday’s arraignment proceedings.

If convicted, Krueger faces up to 20 years in prison.

Krueger has also been linked to a suspicious fire in Oceana County, though he does not yet face any charges in that incident.

ATTACK AT COAST GUARD STATION

Just after 6 a.m. Sunday, Krueger allegedly drove a Dodge Ram into the gate at the Coast Guard station located at 601 S. Harbor Drive just east of the lakeshore, Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said. He then allegedly broke into the station and assaulted a Coast Guardsman, who suffered minor injuries.

Members of the Coast Guard were able to detain Krueger until Grand Haven police officers arrived and arrested him, according to Hawke.

Bob Coleman, who has lived at a condominium across the street from the station for eight years, was able to see everything from his window.

“They had him on the ground. They had handcuffs on him, and then I saw one of the policemen with what I refer to as a SWAT gun,” Coleman said. “I was sitting there and I went, ‘Uh-oh. Something isn’t right here.'”

BOMB THREAT

Krueger allegedly called the Ottawa County Central Dispatch before crashing through the gate, saying he had a bomb.

“‘I have a bomb in my truck and I’m driving it into the Coast Guard building in Grand Haven,'” Grand Have Public Safety Lt. Joe Boyle testified the caller said. “After making this statement, the subject hung up the phone. … Grand Haven Public Safety was notified of the bomb threat and responded to the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Chief Hawke said Sunday that the call came in at 6:07 a.m. and officers arrived at the Coast Guard station within three minutes, by which time the truck had already charged the gate.

Because of the bomb threat, the Coast Guard station was evacuated and residents of the nearby Sandpiper Condos, where Coleman lives, were ordered to shelter in place. The evacuation and shelter-in-place orders were lifted after a Michigan State Police Bomb Squad determined there was no bomb.

“Grand Haven is extremely safe,” Hawke said. “This is an isolated — certainly extraordinary — isolated incident.”

The FBI, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco and Michigan State Police also responded to the Coast Guard station.

Police initially investigated the incident is as an “act of domestic terrorism” because it was an attack on a federal building. However, no links to terrorism or a terrorist organization have been found, Hawke said.

“The suspect is not from Grand Haven. We are unsure, unclear on whether he is acting alone,” Hawke said.

The truck involved in the incident has an Illinois license plate. It’s unclear who the truck belongs to.

Hawke said Sunday that Krueger’s motive was still being investigated. Authorities did not release further details about a possible motive on Monday.

“I’m glad they didn’t find a bomb and everything, but let me tell you, there were a lot of people here,” Coleman, the neighbor who witnessed the incident, said. “It was an exciting morning.”

SUSPICIOUS FIRE IN OCEANA COUNTY

Hawke also confirmed that Krueger has been linked to a suspicious fire in Oceana County’s Golden Township that broke out around 4 a.m. Sunday. That fire happened at a hobby barn that had been fixed up by a previous owner to look like an old-style gas station. Neighbors say the barn, which changed ownership about a year ago, was rarely occupied.

Oceana County Undersheriff Tim Priese said in a Sunday night email to 24 Hour News 8 that no one had been arrested or arraigned in the arson and therefore declined to provide further details about a suspect, but did say the suspect in the Grand Haven incident is also the suspect in the fire.

Oceana County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Craig Mast said the suspect had recently been staying in Oceana County, but is not believed to have been lived there long. Krueger is originally from the Chicago area.

The owner of the Golden Township property, who 24 Hour News 8 learned lives in Illinois and is believed to be a relative of Krueger, declined comment and hung up when 24 Hour News 8 called seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.

“More information gathering, more interviews that we’re going to have to do to put the whole picture together. We’re working with the sheriff’s department in Oceana County on that incident up there, so it’s going to be a lot of coordination and making sure that we have all the facts to present the case,” Hawke said.

Police have so far not found any connection to any other incidents.

Krueger was held at the Grand Haven police station for hours as he was questioned and then taken to the Ottawa County Jail.

He was arraigned on the state charges Monday afternoon. His bond was set at $75,000 cash/commercial surety and if he is released, he is forbidden to use alcohol or controlled substances, go to a Coast Guard facility, obtain a firearm or other dangerous weapon or engage in verbally or physically abusive behavior, and must submit to alcohol and drug testing and searches without a warrant. A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 17.

He may yet face federal charges because the Coast Guard station is federal property.

Krueger’s criminal history is clean, with only citations for an expired license plate and deflated tires out of Illinois.

24 Hour News 8’s Koco McAboy, Heather Walker and Tom Hillen contributed to this report.

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