Mich. Police Ask The Nation To Help Find Alleged Cop Killer
Sterling Heights, Mich. police are asking the nation to help them find a man charged with killing one of their own.
Timothy Berner, 33, (pictured)is accused of fatally shooting 30-year-old Officer Mark Sawyers in a Target store parking lot. (View additional pictures and tattoos on the 'Wanted' poster, PDF document.)
The case will be featured on the national television program "America's Most Wanted."
Sawyers was shot June 4 as he sat in his patrol car outside a Target store at 15 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, according to reports.
Police said Berner drove to the parking lot and fired a shot through the passenger-side window of Sawyers' patrol car. The bullet hit Sawyers in the back of the head. He died the following day at St. John Macomb Hospital. Berner allegedly fled the scene with the officer's handgun.
Berner had returned to his native Sterling Heights, where his adoptive parents lived. He began working at a now-defunct Clinton Township bar, according to a friend.
Berner has been in and out of Macomb and Oakland county jails on charges ranging from driving with a suspended license to failing to pay child support for his 13-year-old son in Pennsylvania.
Sterling Heights Police Chief Barnett Jones said Wednesday Berner, 33, is a former U.S. Marine and Gulf War veteran who was dishonorably discharged in connection with a robbery and assault in North Carolina. The discharge reportedly dates back to the early 1990s.
Police suspect Berner is responsible for two shotgun robberies in March and April, one in Lansing and one in Brighton. He had crafted a strategy that if he ever got in trouble he "planned to get the hell out of here," Jones said.
That plan, according to Jones, was to get a handgun for future crimes and go into hiding. His military-taught survival skills are helping him elude federal, state and local authorities, Jones said.
Police believe Berner may have fled the state. U.S. Magistrate Mona Majzoub on Tuesday approved a federal warrant for Berner's arrest. A state warrant was issued earlier for the suspect, whose last known address was in Clinton Township.
Police searched his Clinton Township residence June 5. Residents were on lockdown as police blew out the front door to the home on Park Drive in the Silver Springs community.
Berner was not found at the Clinton Township residence.
Investigators and a SWAT team raided a Roseville home Tuesday after learning that Berner may have stayed there. Berner was not found inside the home, according to reports. Police have not released details of any evidence found in the house.
Investigators said Wednesday that video evidence suggests that Berner trailed another police cruiser shortly before Sawyers' shooting death, leading them to believe he was stalking police officers.
Investigators continue their search for Berner and his vehicle -- a red 1994 Chevrolet Camaro with the license plate number YSR497. Berner is described as about 6 feet 4 inches tall, about 250 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair.
Sterling Heights police are offering a $25,000 reward for an arrest in connection with Sawyers' shooting death. Anyone with information should contact Sterling Heights police at (586) 446-2800.
Contributions Can Be Sent To:
Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 118
P.O. Box 180761
Sterling Heights, MI 48310
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Download the 'Wanted' poster (PDF document).