Reports reveal events leading to double murder suspect’s arrest

Zachary Patten
Zachary Patten's Aug. 1, 2017 mug shot from the Kalamazoo County Jail.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — More information is coming to light about the man accused of murdering two people in Southwest Michigan before being arrested in Indiana last month.

In July, police say Zachary Patten shot and killed two people in one night. Friday, 24 Hour News 8 obtained police reports that paint a picture of a man consumed by rage and obsessed with jealousy.

It was the evening of July 20 when police say Patten returned to his Portage home from work, agitated and upset. The next day he was due in court for a hearing about his parenting time and child support. His girlfriend he lived with told police Patten was also jealous of her ex-boyfriend, Oscar Portillo-Esparza.

According to reports, Patten would later tell police he broke part of the drywall to get a 9 mm handgun that he had been hiding in the wall for three years. Patten then packed a bag and before leaving the house, his girlfriend reminded him of his court appearance scheduled for the next day.

Patten told her, “I’m probably not even going to need court,” according to the police reports 24 Hour News 8 obtained through an open records request.

That’s when police say Patten drove directly to a mobile home park where Portillo-Esparza lived. Patten found Portillo-Esparza standing on a porch. According to reports, Patten told detectives he pointed his handgun directly at Portillo-Esparza and pulled the trigger. But just at that moment, Portillo-Esparza’s sister, Graciela, stepped into the line of fire and was shot and killed.

Patten wasn’t finished. He told detectives he then drove to his ex-wife’s house in Constantine, where he found his ex-wife and her husband. Patten knocked on the door of the house and told his ex-wife he wanted to talk to her husband. She refused, closing and locking the door. Patten said he busted down the front door, found his ex-wife’s husband and shot and killed him.

According to the reports, Patten fled to South Bend, Ind. after the shootings.

It was there where he got into a single-car accident. South Bend Airport Authority Police arrested him for Operating While Intoxicated. Officers searched Patten’s car and found a loaded 9 mm Hi-Point handgun. They also found several loose rounds on the driver’s seat and around the front passenger compartment area. After arresting Patten, they let him go, not knowing he was a double-homicide suspect wanted for two murders that same night.

It wasn’t until the next day that Patten decided to turn himself in to officers outside a South Bend grocery store.

“There was a gentleman sitting on the bench,” said South Bend Police Department Det. Chris Kronewitter. “Gentleman stood up, walked over to them, and said that he needed to be arrested.”