Police: Sheriff’s son gave gun to murder suspect

MSP says Nikolas Abbott sold gun after shooting and then reported it stolen

Nikolas Abbott
A photo showing the handgun that Michigan State Police say Nikolas Abbott gave to Thurman Fletcher, retrieved, sold and then reported stolen. It was recovered in Benton Harbor.


PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — The son of the Van Buren County sheriff faces charges for allegedly providing the gun used in a homicide near Bangor earlier this year.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has charged Nikolas Abbott with accessory after the fact to a felony, felony firearm charges and false report of a felony.

WITNESSES: ABBOTT GAVE SUSPECT HANDGUN

Thurman Fletcher is accused of shooting and killing 28-year-old Eddie “E.J.” Holland in Lions Park near Bangor on Feb. 3.

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

Hundreds of page of police reports obtained by Target 8 through the Freedom of Information Act show multiple witnesses told investigators that Fletcher got the 9 mm handgun used in the incident from Abbott when the two met up at a party.

“Do not shoot my gun. You know the gun’s registered to me,” a witness said Abbott told Fletcher.

“Bro, I ain’t gonna do that,” Fletcher allegedly responded.

Police reports show Fletcher passed the gun off after the shooting and witnesses said Abbott picked it up from a Bangor house later that night. One witness said Abbott then quickly sold it for $100 to get rid of it.

Sheriff Daniel Abbott called Michigan State Police the next day to connect troopers with his son, who wanted to report the gun stolen. Nikolas Abbott blamed Fletcher and another man for the theft, but the police reports make it clear investigators didn’t believe him.

In a search warrant affidavit, police wrote, “Thurman Fletcher informed investigators the gun used in the murder was given to him by Nikolas Abbott and that it was later returned to Nikolas Abbott.”

A couple of months after the homicide, the initial buyer of Abbott’s gun led investigators to the person he sold it to in Benton Harbor, police reports say. Authorities say the serial number confirmed it was the same weapon.

On Monday evening, 24 Hour News 8 went to ask Sheriff Abbott about what prompted him to call MSP and what his son told him about what happened to the gun. He was not pleased with 24 Hour News 8’s coverage.

“F****** pissed. So you want an interview tomorrow, come see me tomorrow, come see me tomorrow at work. I’m not doing one today. Come see me at work tomorrow I’ll give you an interview. Fair enough? ” the sheriff said.

DRUGS AND COUNTERFEITING

Fletcher has been charged with murder and his trial has been delayed until October so he could hire a private investigator to help with his case.

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

He has claimed that he fought with Holland and was shot in the foot, at which point he got the gun back and shot Holland in self-defense. Fletcher originally told officers he accidentally shot himself while squirrel hunting.

The shooting was drug-related, but witnesses dispute whether Thurman planned to buy two pounds of marijuana from Holland or if the plan was to steal the drugs.

Regardless of which story is true, Thurman told police that Nikolas Abbott gave him the gun because he was going to get some of the drugs as part of the deal.

The police reports show Holland was already suspicious of Fletcher at the time of the deal because Fletcher been passing counterfeit money around town and using it to buy drugs.

It is not clear what, if any, involvement Abbott may have had with the counterfeiting.

Police reports regarding that investigation show MSP has videos and photos “of Thurman Fletcher with a stack of money over his face. One was a photo of a table with drugs and money on it and the last was a photo of a text message indicated to be from (redacted).” A photo of the text message shows it is from a “nick abby.” The writer says “she just sent a picture of bud and money laying all out and its all of mine.” The message continues, “you can even see its my table and my house.”

Fletcher identified someone he claimed was the source of the counterfeiting, but that name is redacted from the police reports.

NOVEMBER 2016 CRASH

Abbott is also facing a charge of reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment in connection to a head-on crash on County Road 681 south of Bangor in November 2016. Investigators say Abbott admitted to looking down at a text message on his phone when he drifted across the centerline and hit another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle still has lingering pain as a result of the injuries she sustained.

Police reports show Abbott had THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana — in his system and had admitted that he smokes marijuana and took a Xanax, for which he did not have a prescription.

MLive is reporting that Abbott is due in court for a preliminary hearing on July 26.

24 Hour News 8 also went to his last known address on Monday to get his side of the story, but one came to the door.

–24 Hour News 8’s Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.