SULLIVAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Muskegon County sheriff’s deputies were injured while responding to a call of a suicidal man in Sullivan Township late Sunday morning, authorities told 24 Hour News 8.
It happened around 10:46 a.m. in the 4000 block of Tean-Mar Avenue, near Brooks Road. Sullivan Township is east of the City of Muskegon.
Sheriff’s deputies and officers from other agencies went there after a family member reported a man was suicidal and armed, Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler said. The wife and children of the man were safely removed from the house.
Roesler said the man would not respond to calls to come out of the home, so deputies went to check on him. When they looked in a bedroom window, they saw him lying on the bed. They were concerned he had already harmed himself, so they went inside.
Roesler said the man then came out of a bedroom with a rifle pointed down. One of the deputies shoved the man against the bedroom door frame. Deputies and other officers struggled with the man, eventually using a Taser to subdue him.
One of the deputies suffered a broken leg and another’s shoulder was injured in the struggle. Both were taken to the hospital.
The deputy who had a shoulder injury will be off work for a few days, but should be back on the job soon. The other deputy underwent surgery Sunday afternoon. He will be off duty longer.
“Considering the danger of the situation, what could have happened, I’ll take these minor injuries over losing an officer any time,” Roesler said.
He said he was proud of his deputies.
Roesler ended up driving the reportedly suicidal man to the hospital in an injured deputy’s cruiser. He said that during the drive, “the subject made it very clear that his wish for the officers to have shot him.”
“He just was not feeling up to dealing with life’s pressures and made some other comments to that effect,” Roesler said. “Asked me several times to simply pull over and shoot him, put him out of his misery, those kinds of statements.”
He said the man sustained a minor injury as officers were subduing him and that his “mental status” was being evaluated at the hospital.
Neighbor Bill Vanderplow said his dogs first alerted him to what was going on outside.
“I saw the squad cars were slowly coming in,” he said. “There was first one, then two, then I think they ended up with, I don’t know, 10 or 11.”
As he saw officers in the backyard of his neighbor’s home, he didn’t know what the problem was.
“I thought it was maybe an animal or a convict on loose or something catastrophic back there,” he said.
Then he saw deputies enter his neighbor’s home.
“After a little while, the gentleman that was in there, he came out with the handcuffs,” he said. “Looked to me like there was a policeman that was brought out in a stretcher, looked like he might have been injured with something.”
He thought officers were inside for about 15 or 20 minutes.
“You could tell something bad happened,” he said.
He said he thought he had seen authorities at the home before, but didn’t know why they were there.
Sheriff Roesler praised the professionalism of the responding deputies in what he called a “deadly force situation.”
“Because of the professionalism, skill and training of all the officers this guy is still alive,” he said. “Although two officers were injured, they still get to go home to their families.”
Michigan State Police are handling the investigation into the incident. The man will likely face some criminal charges, but Roesler said law enforcement will be working with the prosecutors, courts and mental health system “to hopefully get this gentleman the help he needs.”
>>Online: Interview with Sheriff Roesler