Officers responding to a 911 call shot and killed a man early Tuesday morning in Benton Harbor, Mich.
The South Bend Tribune reports that four officers arrived at a house at 2:17 a.m. after receiving a report that someone was being held at gunpoint inside. Three of the officers approached the house, and one stayed back to provide cover.
Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis told the Tribune that residents at the home told police that no one there had called 911, and upon investigating, the police found no one being held at gunpoint. While officers were speaking with a female resident of the house, four or five shots rang out from some bushes about 20 yards south of the house.
While the officers and the female resident ran for shelter, the officer who had been providing cover opened fire with a high-powered rifle from behind a tree. The gunman fired two more shots, and the officer again returned fire, this time killing the man.
Police have not released the man’s name, but friends and family told the Tribune that the suspect was 28-year-old Darius Wimberly. He was taken to Lakeland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police found two semi-automatic handguns on the suspect, one of which had spent its entire magazine of seven rounds.
Three of the four officers were wearing body cameras, McGinnis said, and the cameras reportedly support the officers’ accounts of what happened.
Footage from the cameras will be released to the public after Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic reviews the case, a process that could take several weeks.
The officer who did the shooting has not been named, but McGinnis said that he has been on the force for less than a year and is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. The Michigan State Police will be handling the investigation.
Authorities say that they do not believe the gunman was trying to ambush police but, rather, was targeting someone inside the house. Police say that witnesses, phone records and history suggest that the man had a dispute with someone who lived in the home.
Benton Harbor officials have acknowledged the city’s history of tension between black residents and the police, and have urged those frustrated by the shooting to remain peaceful. The city previously experienced five nights of rioting in 2003 after a 28-year-old black man died in a crash after being chased by police. Those riots were concentrated less than a block from where Tuesday’s shooting occurred.
Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said at a press conference Tuesday that he had spoken with the family of the man who was shot in order to answer questions and help ease tensions.
Read more at the South Bend Tribune.