Police: Hurt murder suspect blamed squirrel hunting accident

Thurman Fletcher
A Feb. 5, 2017 mug shot of Thurman Fletcher. (Michigan Department of Corrections)


SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) —  Michigan State Police say a drug deal sparked a deadly shooting at a Bangor Park.

Relatives confirmed that Eddie “E.J.” Holland, Jr., 28, was the man who was shot at Lions Park Friday evening. Holland died shortly after arriving at Lakeland Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

Eddie Holland
An undated courtesy photo of Eddie “E.J.” Holland, provided by relatives.

Michigan State Police say a short time later, Thurman Fletcher showed up at Bronson Hospital with a gunshot wound to his right leg and foot.

Police arrested Fletcher Saturday night. Monday afternoon, the 19-year-old was formally charged with murder and possessing a firearm while committing a felony.

A sign for Lions Park in Bangor, where a 28-year-old man was found dead. (Feb. 6, 2017)
A sign for Lions Park in Bangor, where a 28-year-old man was found dead. (Feb. 6, 2017)

In the South Haven courtroom, Fletcher seemed confused by the charges levied against him.

“Is it still being investigated?” he asked the judge, who was unable to answer his question.

“When you say I’m being charged with it, does that mean — can you explain it to me?” He asked.

The judge explained that the murder charge had been filed.

“Even though it was self-defense — this still qualifies as that?” Fletcher said. “I don’t want you to look at me as another statistic… The pistol was given to me by someone,” he added.

The judge cut him off, telling him that his arraignment was not the appropriate time to discuss details of the case.

Fletcher first told police he accidentally shot himself while squirrel hunting.

Spray paint marks the scene of a murder at Lions Park in Bangor. (Feb. 6, 2017)
Spray paint marks the scene of a murder at Lions Park in Bangor. (Feb. 6, 2017)

Police told the judge Fletcher then changed his story, saying Holland shot him after they began fighting. Fletcher allegedly told police a gun fell out of his waistband during a fight with Holland. Fletcher said Holland shot him before he was able to wrestle the gun away from him and fire the shots that killed Holland.

Holland’s family describes him as a troubled man who began spending time with the wrong crowd. They say he was involved in drug use.

MSP Lt. Dale Hinz said the investigation into the homicide remains active and that he expects others to be criminally charged in connection with Holland’s death.