Battle Creek PD ID man fatally shot before house fire

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Police have released the name of a man whose body was found in his burned Battle Creek home on New Year’s Day.

Officers are considering 58-year-old Howard Leon Gillette’s death suspicious. In a Wednesday news release, the Battle Creek Police Department said it determined Gillette died from gunshot wounds, and someone possibly used an accelerant in the fire that damaged his home.

Firefighters were called to Gillette’s home in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. They called in police about a half hour later, when crews found Gillette’s body inside the burned home, located in the 200 block of Graves Street south of Parkway Drive.

Gillette’s neighbors say they were shocked by the news. There were mixed opinions among neighbors who spoke with 24 Hour News 8 about the type of person Gillette was.

“He was a relatively nice guy,” said neighbor Billy McCrea. “I hate to hear that happen to anybody. Nobody deserves that.”

McCrea said he didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary Tuesday morning until firefighters and police showed up.

“It’s sad. It shouldn’t happen. But, you know, you live in a crazy world now. People don’t care anymore,” McCrea said. “Nobody has a sense of anything. Its nuts.”

Police say they have no suspects in the case at this time. Anyone with information in this case is asked to call police at 269.781.0911 or Silent Observer at 269.964.3888.

Investigators planned a Thursday morning news conference to update the public on the case. 24 Hour News 8 will provide updates as they become available.

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