BLOOMINGDALE, Mich. (WOOD) - A parole absconder was arrested Thursday evening following a several-hour manhunt involving several law enforcement agencies.
Authorities said around 6:45 p.m. that Michael Loren Warner, 32, was in custody. He led police on a chase Wednesday and is believed to have broken into a home Thursday, stealing guns and an off-road vehicle.
Matt Hassing, who owns a residence in the 10000 block of 41st Street south of Bloomingdale, came home around 6 p.m. Thursday. He checked his house and found nothing wrong. Then he decided to have a look at the barn. He found the door was locked.
"I thought, 'That's odd because I didn't lock the door this morning.' Nothing really looked odd until I looked and saw an empty cigarette carton on the floor," Hassing said. "I don't smoke. No one in my family smokes. I said, 'He's in the barn.'"
He was right. Police showed up and found Warner hiding behind a 2-by-4 wall inside.
"He had a tarp and my motorcycle cover on top of him," Hassing said.
"One of our detectives saw some movement behind that board. We then ordered the subject, if he was in there, to come out. He refused to do so, so we sent in our K-9 unit," Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Walker said.
Warner then came out and surrendered. He was unarmed, emotionless and cooperative.
"He's got some cuts and bruises on him from running through the woods," Walker said. "He's glad it's over."
And so is everyone else.
"I'll sleep a lot easier," Hassing said.
Warner was briefly hospitalized for minor injuries, but was released and taken to the Van Buren County Jail Thursday evening.
Authorities said after the search that Warner had been talking to relatives on his cellphone toward the end of the search, telling them that police were closing in.
The Van Buren County Sheriff's Office, Allegan County Sheriff's Office, Michigan State Police, MSP K-9s and the MSP Aviation Unit, and South Haven Police were all involved in the search.
The situation began just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, when an Allegan County sheriff’s deputy spotted Warner’s car in Valley Township, just east of Allegan.
Police were looking for Warner because earlier that afternoon he had cut of his tether – which he was wearing because he was on parole for larceny and home invasion.
The deputy made contact with Warner, but Warner tried to get away. The deputy also tried to use his Taser on Warner as he drove off, but was unsuccessful.
Warner led law enforcement on a chase through central and southern Allegan County and then into Van Buren County. The chase involved deputies with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office as well as troopers with the Michigan State Police.
Eventually, police backed off the chase because Warner was driving too fast and ignoring traffic signs.
Later, an MSP trooper and his police dog found Warner’s car along CR 388 in Van Buren County east of Bloomingdale and attempted to track him, but were unsuccessful. However, the dog did find Warner’s cell phone.
Police said Warner broke into a home near Bloomingdale and stole two guns and an ORV around 12 p.m.
A man who saw the news report about Warner said he saw Warner drive off in the ORV, and gave chase. Warner then ditched the ATV and ran off, leaving the guns behind.
Sheriff's deputies set up a perimeter near the Kal-Haven Trail to search for him.
After the ATV was stolen, schools in two districts in Van Buren County went into lockdown. Those schools included Gobles Public Schools and Bloomingdale Public Schools, with the exception of Pullman Elementary School. Bus routes and evening activities were canceled and parents were asked to pick up their children.
Both Gobles and Bloomingdale schools are expected to be open as normal Friday.
Around 5:30 p.m., authorities believed that they had found Warner near Bloomingdale. However, the man they had found was not Warner. Rather, it was a man carrying a gun who was searching for Warner himself.
The actual Warner was arrested in the area a little more than an hour later.
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