3 Mich. officers shot responding to home invasion

A suspect broke into the home and held the family hostage


Ryan Boldrey
MLive.com

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Christopher Ryan Lee Neal has been identified by police as the victim of a fatal shooting that took place at a Comstock Township home Sunday, Dec. 1.

The shooting also resulted in three police officers being injured by gunfire. Neal was home with his wife and child around 10 p.m. Sunday when a suspect, who is now in custody, broke into the home and held the family hostage, police said.

Police tape marks off the scene after authorities say an intruder shot and wounded several law enforcement officers at the home in Comstock Township, Mich. (Photo/AP)
Police tape marks off the scene after authorities say an intruder shot and wounded several law enforcement officers at the home in Comstock Township, Mich. (Photo/AP)

“Neal was a 22-year-old man who was doing nothing wrong,” Kalamazoo County Sheriff Rick Fuller told reporters at a Dec. 2 news conference. “He was at home watching TV and an, unknown to them, suspect, broke into the residence and started 40 minutes of mayhem for the family.

“The difficulties in this case are all related to this man’s actions.”

Fuller told reporters Neal’s wife was able to get herself and the couple’s child out of harm’s way and hide in an upstairs room, from where she began making calls to 911.

The family had just moved into the home within the “last couple weeks,” Fuller said. The home, he said, is owned by Neal’s father-in-law.

Shortly after Neal’s wife began contacting 911, officers from the Michigan State Police, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and the sheriff’s office arrived.

The Kalamazoo Metro SWAT team was en route when, about 45 minutes after the first calls came in, police at the scene heard gunfire coming from inside the house, Fuller said.

Officers then entered the home, where they were able to ensure the safety of Neal’s wife and child and apprehended a suspect, who attempted to flee the scene.

Prior to being apprehended, the suspect fired at police, hitting and wounding three of them.

Two of the injured officers — Michigan State Police Trooper Mark Fletcher and a Kalamazoo County deputy — have been released from the hospital after being treated for injuries.

Fletcher, a two-year veteran of MSP, was shot in the lower leg, according to Lt. Angel Ouwingya. The deputy, whose name Fuller declined to release, had a bullet graze his head, the sheriff said. The deputy has been with the department for less than a year, Fuller said.

The third officer shot, Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer Caleb Jones, was shot in the left shoulder and is expected to be hospitalized for the next few days, KDPS Chief Karianne Thomas said Monday. Jones, a three-year veteran of KDPS, is in good condition, Thomas said.

Fuller praised the officers for showing restraint and not firing off any rounds Sunday night.

“There were a lot of rounds fired off by the suspect last night, a lot,” Fuller said. “And no officers were in position to return any fire because they were worried about other victims. And that’s why you have three injured officers today and a suspect in custody.”

The suspect was arrested as he attempted to flee the scene, police said.

The name of the suspect, who is being held at the Kalamazoo County Jail awaiting arraignment, will not be released until he is formally charged, Fuller said.

The sheriff said they are seeking charges of murder, home invasion, unlawful imprisonment, assault with intent to murder, and multiple charges related to the injuries to the officers, as well as felony firearms charges.

“This family has had a tragic loss,” Fuller said. “Last night, I was listening to the child play in the other room as the deputies were talking to the mom, and it struck me that this young child has a new future, a new future brought upon her through a tragic event that can’t be erased. And so we’ll work with our community to help them heal.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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