Man killed in KDPS shootout was ex-EMT, firefighter

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A shooter was shot and killed by officers Tuesday morning after luring them to a business and then opening fire, Kalamazoo police said.

Family of the man killed identified him as Brandon Stacey, 31. They said he previously worked for Life EMS and was a volunteer firefighter in Parchment. He was a husband and father to a young daughter.

Shocked family members said they don’t know why Stacey did what he did, but they’re sure he didn’t want to kill any officers. They say Stacey, who spent a good chunk of his career in public service, didn’t hate police.

Officers were called to the Biomat USA Plasma Center on East Kalamazoo Avenue at N. Edwards Street in downtown Kalamazoo, where family said Stacey had worked for less than a year, around 11:30 a.m. on a report of an active shooter.

When the first two officers got there, they entered and found the suspect just inside. He opened fire on them, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Director Karianne Thomas said, and they returned fire.

Stacey’s family members said he didn’t shoot first, though it’s unclear where they got that information.

One of the officers was hit “multiple times,” Thomas said, but the bullets were stopped by his vest. 

“He was saved today by his bulletproof vest and the quick reaction of his fellow officer,” she said.

The second officer continued firing, shooting the suspect multiple times. When other officers arrived, they started lifesaving efforts, but the suspect died.

The gunfire lasted less than three minutes, Thomas said.

The officer who was hit was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but was soon released.

No one else was hurt.

“We are so very fortunate in this community to have such caring and highly skilled public safety officers. These are men and women who will run into gunfire. We are so blessed that all our officers, all the employees of Biomat and their customers are going home safe tonight to their families,” Thomas said.

She did not release the names of the officers.

DONOR: “ALL OF A SUDDEN, I HEARD A ‘BOOM'”

Loretta Woods said she had just started donating plasma when it happened.

“I just got back in the back and got hooked up and all of the sudden, I heard a ‘boom,'” Woods said. “I just heard a big boom and then I heard someone say, ‘Call 911,’ so I was like — I’m all confused in my head, like, ‘What the hell is going on here? What’s happening?'”

Woods said workers unhooked her and other donors and told them to leave through the side door. When she got outside, the situation escalated.

“I got around the corner and I heard ‘boom, boom, boom,’ like 10 shots or more on the inside,” Woods said. “I went to get in the van, got in the van and I seen them (police) pulling out an officer from the front glass going outdoors.”

Woods said she left in her friend’s vehicle as officers swarmed the scene.

“It was just really scary,” her friend Amy Zeigler said. “I started shaking ’cause I was afraid that they might start shooting as we were driving by to get out there. It was really scary.”

“Thank God for his (the officer’s) vest ’cause that’s what saved his life. I’m glad he’s OK,” she added.

CHIEF: SUSPECT WANTED TO AMBUSH OFFICERS

Chief Thomas said the suspect was armed with a handgun.

“It appears that he entered the business with the intent to draw officers in and then ambush them upon entry,” she said. “Even in Kalamazoo, we are not immune to workplace violence or violence directed toward our first responders.”

She said he fired shots and then told others in the building to call police.

“The suspect was waiting by the door for officers to arrive,” Thomas said.

She said the first officers on the scene did what they were trained to do by entering the building to confront an active shooter. She praised them for their bravery and said she was grateful no one beside the suspect was seriously hurt.

The officer who was hit is the first KDPS officer to be shot in the line of duty since Officer Eric Zapata was shot and killed in April 2011.

He has been with KDPS for 2.5 years. The other officer has been on the force for only about nine months.

“That just gives you an indication of how young this department is and these are young, young officers out there and they are willing to do this work,” Thomas said. “And we have difficulty finding officers. You all know that. We have been in the media saying that. This is an example and it’s an example of the dedication that these men and women have to this community.”

INVESTIGATION

Thomas said that in addition to KDPS’s criminal and internal investigations, Michigan State Police will investigate. It’s common for an outside department to look into an officer-involved shooting.

MSP said an autopsy was conducted Wednesday.

When the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the county prosecutor, who will decide whether the officers were justified in using deadly force — also standard procedure.

Thomas thanked Western Michigan University campus police, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, and Kalamazoo Township and Portage police for helping at the scene and for responding to other calls while KDPS dealt with the shooting.

“We also are appreciative of the outpouring of support we have received from around the city and around the state,” she said.

LOCKDOWN AND SHUT DOWN

The nearby Kalamazoo Gospel Mission was locked down and Shakespeare’s Pub was temporarily closed as police responded to the Biomat.

“BE SAFE KALAMAZOO! We will update you when we reopen,” the pub posted on Facebook.

Pub owner Ted Vadella said he saw about 30 police cruisers surrounding Biomat and three ambulances. Officers shut down the roadway at Harrison Street.

“It’s very efficient. They’ve done a superb job with getting people out of the plasma center and they’ve brought in buses, it appears, to get those people out of a safe area and I presume interview them,” Vadella said.

All surrounding roads reopened Tuesday afternoon.

—24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker and Evan Dean contributed to this report.

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