‘Gunfire, dude’: Man recounts shootout with suspect

Allegan County

MANLIUS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Before he was shot and wounded by Allegan County sheriff’s deputies Sunday morning, a car theft suspect exchanged gunfire with a civilian.

The suspect, whose name hasn’t been released because he hasn’t yet been charged, remained in the hospital Monday. Prosecutors are still working out what to charge him with after an extensive weekend crime spree.

Authorities say the suspect stole three vehicles in Martin, Wayland and Hopkins Saturday night and led deputies on a brief chase, but he remained at large Sunday morning.

Around 8:30 a.m., mechanic Ernie Caudill got a call from the sheriff’s office warning him that the suspect may be in his area along 56th Street north of Fennville. It was only a short time later when the suspect, armed with an AR-15, showed up. Caudill said he tried to steal one vehicle and then another, so Caudill went to the front door to confront him.

“I said, ‘Hey!’ Gunfire, dude,” Caudill recounted Monday. “He started shooting.”

Caudill had a gun, too, and he started shooting back.

“I’m thinking somebody’s gonna die today and it ain’t gonna be me,” Caudill recalled when asked what he was thinking.

The suspect fired a minimum of four shots. Caudill himself fired through a window at the suspect as he walked around the property.

  • Fennville-area shootout damage
  • Fennville-area shootout damage
  • Fennville-area shootout damage

“He had to be on that meth or crack or something, buddy. ‘Cause when he looked at me and (started) shooting, there was just a blank look in his eye. That’s it,” Caudill said.

Caudill wasn’t hurt in the shooting, but he said he thinks the suspect should face an attempted murder charge for shooting at him.

“I hope he stays in jail,” Caudill said. “Or if he comes back here, he’ll be dead.”

The suspect managed to make it off his property in a stolen minivan, but he crashed it a few miles away near the intersection of 56th and 128th Avenue. There, he broke into another house and held the people inside at gunpoint, authorities say. When he went outside to steal their truck, he was confronted by deputies and ultimately shot.

Authorities investigating the scene after an officer-involved shooting with an armed carjacking suspect. (June 16, 2019)

The Allegan County prosecutor declined to comment Monday on what charges the suspect would faces, but arraignment is expected to happen Tuesday of Wednesday.

Michigan State Police are investigating the officer-involved shooting. No deputies were hurt.

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