PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — After arresting two sisters following a standoff, police say they found more than 20 weapons in a Portage home where the women lived with their brother, who was shot and killed by officers earlier this month.
The Portage Department of Public Safety responded to the home in the area of 4415 Raborn Court just before 9 p.m. Saturday after reports of multiple shots fired.
Tucked behind a subdivision on a private drive, the house is mostly hidden from view to those on the road. The property — or compound, as police described it — is littered with abandoned cars and several outbuildings.
Sean Pelletier, who was shot and killed by police following a May 14 chase, had been living in the Portage home with his sisters. Their mother, Christine Pelletier, was trying to evict the three because they were not paying rent.
STANDOFF AND TEAR GAS
According to a Sunday news release, officers got a search warrant later Saturday evening because of the recent officer-involved shooting and “volatile contacts with the two siblings.” The Kalamazoo Metro SWAT team was called to the scene to serve the warrant. They fired tear gas into the home after the women refused to comply with officers’ repeated commands to come out.
“Nobody was hurt,” Portage DPS Senior Deputy Police Chief Nicholas Armold said. “Hopefully the people we took out of here are going to get help.”
An online victim’s advocacy website shows Michelle Pelletier, 34, and Amy Pelletier, 39, are in the custody of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.
A news release from the sheriff’s office said the sisters were arrested for outstanding warrants after police used “less lethal options” and were transported to area hospitals. The release also said the sisters will face additional charges for resisting and obstructing officers.
EVIDENCE OF AN “ARMORY”
Police delayed searching the Raborn Court property until daylight Sunday, fearing the former residents may have left behind traps.
“One of our concerns has always been whether or not there are booby traps or issues with the home,” Armold said.
When officers first entered the home, they found trigger-like mechanisms that they believed could be booby traps and backed out, Armold said Sunday afternoon. The bomb squad was called in, but it turned out to be a false alarm — there were no booby traps.
Armold said investigators found more than 20 weapons — including handguns, rifles and assault weapons — in nearly every room of the house.
“Going room by room with different teams, collecting all the weapons. … We’re up in the high 20s right now, still looking,” Armold said. “There’s evidence all over the inside of the house of an armory, making their own rounds.”
Police are checking to see if those weapons were owned legally.
The siblings seem to have been living “off the grid,” police said — there was no running water at or outside electric service to the home. The residents had been using solar power.
“Obviously, they are free weapons people. They pretty much stayed to themselves, kind of fly off the grid,” Armold said.
Police cleared the scene around 6 p.m. Sunday, about 21 hours after the initial call of shots fired.
Officers said the county is expected to continue the eviction process on Monday.
MAY 14 CHASE AND OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING
On May 14, police tried to perform a traffic stop on the car in which 37-year-old Sean Pelletier was a passenger. His brother Aaron Pelletier, 29, was driving. Sheriff’s office officials knew the siblings kept weapons in the Raborn Court home, so they thought a traffic stop would be the safer way to arrest Sean Pelletier, who was wanted on warrants connected to the eviction dispute.
Authorities say Aaron Pelletier, who was driving, took off and the pair then led officers on a high-speed chase. In police dash cam video, shots can be heard being fired from the Pelletiers’ car.
The chase came to an end at a Portage apartment complex. Sean Pelletier was shot and killed by officers after he got out of the car with a weapon, they say. Aaron Pelletier sustained a gunshot wound that left him critically injured but alive.
24 Hour News 8’s Marc Thompson and Ken Kolker contributed to this report.