PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — A 62-year-old man has been charged in the shooting deaths of two friends at a New Year’s celebration near Lawrence.
Christopher Alan Toppenberg, 62, from Lawrence, was charged in district court Wednesday with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of felony firearm. He is being held on a $1.5 million bond cash or surety.
The shooting happened just after midnight Sunday on 60th Avenue near County Road 681 in Lawrence Township. A small group of people celebrating the New Year’s had set off fireworks when Toppenberg started firing a gun, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office said.
“The suspect, believing the range was clear — what they call a range — began shooting in that direction. That area was not clear and the two subjects ended up passing,” Evans explained.
Killed were David Reed and Jason McCreary. Reed was a 35-year-old from Paw Paw and McCreary was a 40-year-old from Sutter Creek, California, near Sacramento, said the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.
Lt. Tony Evans with the sheriff’s office said the victims were friends with the Toppenberg.
“Obviously, an investigation will continue into that to see if there was any intentional act. But the investigation right now shows that it appears to be unintentional at this time,” Evans said.
Toppenberg is scheduled for a preliminary exam on Jan. 17.
— News 8’s David Horak and Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.