Girlfriend heard shot, saw man ‘laying in road’

An undated courtesy photo of Steven Kauffman.

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — The girlfriend of a man who was fatally shot last month testified during a Thursday hearing, describing what happened the day Steven Kauffman was killed and left in the middle of the road.

Sigmund Rumpf faces a murder charge for allegedly killing Kauffman, 34, on July 21 on Wildwood Road in Orangeville Township, south of Gun Lake. Rumpf was in a Barry County courtroom on Thursday for a probable cause hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Sigmund Rumpf in a Barry County courtroom for arraignment. (July 22, 2015)
(Rumpf at his July 22 arraignment.)

Among the people who testified at the hearing was Kauffman’s girlfriend, Morgan Wire. She had been dating Kauffman for about two months and has been friends with Rumpf for about four years. The two men, she said, had never met.

She was on the stand for well over an hour Thursday morning, during which time she painted a picture of what happened the day Kauffman died.

She said she and Kauffman had been drinking that day and had argued as they returned from a trip to the beach at South Haven. They stopped for gas in Kalamazoo, at which point Wire drove off, leaving Kauffman behind.

She testified Kauffman had pushed her out of the car earlier that day and also struck her in the face. She said he had previously abused her both verbally and physically.

Wire said that after leaving Kauffman at the gas station, she drove to her workplace near Hastings, where she used a friend’s phone to send Rumpf a Facebook message to go to her house and get her dog. She met Rumpf there, she said, and they gathered some of her belongings. Wire said she spotted a gun in Rumpf’s car as they loaded some things into it.

They then left in separate cars to go to Rumpf’s house. As they were driving on Wildwood Road near Marsh Road, Wire said, Kauffman drove past them in his mother’s car. He turned around to follow her, she said, so she pulled over. Kauffman stopped behind her, and Rumpf also pulled over.

Wire said Kauffman got out of his car and walked toward Rumpf’s car. She heard the pair begin to argue.

“I heard yelling,” Wire testified. “I heard a couple of f-bombs. … It certainly didn’t sound very nice.”

She said she then heard at least one gunshot, after which she looked behind her.

“I saw Steven laying in the road,” she said.

Both Rumpf and Wire left the scene. After the shooting, Wire said, Rumpf texted her and told her to call 911.

A passerby spotted Kauffman a short time later, still lying in the road. He was already dead.

Rumpf was arrested later that night and charged the next day.

Wire said that after the shooting, she went to Hastings and then to a Grand Rapids bar. She left that bar with a friend she met there and went to his residence in Allendale. At no point did she go to police. They found her. She testified that she wasn’t hiding from police, but rather from “people on Steve’s side.”

The defense painted Kauffman as a violent person who approached Rumpf unprovoked and started an altercation.

The firefighter who was the first emergency responder on scene also testified. He said he saw that Kauffman had a gunshot wound to the chest. He did not see any weapons nearby, but did see a bullet casing about 20 feet from Kauffman’s body.

The hearing continued on Aug. 10. A judge decided there was enough evidence to send the case on to trial, and Rumpf was bound over to circuit court.

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