LAKETON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A teen girl locked herself in her bedroom and called 911 when a man broke into her house Monday afternoon. Responding troopers shot and killed the intruder, Michigan State Police say.
The man killed was identified by MSP on Tuesday as Joseph Miller, 37, of Muskegon.
The break-in happened around 2:40 p.m. Monday on Sugaridge Drive near West River Road in Laketon Township, north of Muskegon. MSP said the teen daughter of the homeowner called 911.
In a recording of the call, the girl can be heard telling a dispatcher that there was a strange man in her backyard, then that he was in the home, then that he was in the next room.
“Do you know who it is?” the dispatcher said.
“No,” the teen replied.
“Is he in the house right now?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yes,” the girl whispered.
She can be heard whispering that she was hiding behind her bed but that she didn’t know how sturdy the door to her room was. She said she was pretty sure the stranger had a gun.
The dispatcher urged her to stay on the line and told her police were on the way.
“Don’t talk if you can’t, but don’t hang up the phone,” the dispatcher said.
“I’m still here,” the girl can be heard whispering at one point.
“Me, too,” the dispatcher said. “I’m here.”
The recording shows it took troopers about 14 minutes to arrive at the rural home after the call came in.
Troopers say they confronted Miller as he came out of the house. They say Miller pulled a gun, at which point there was an exchange of gunfire. Miller was killed.
Within about 35 seconds of the dispatcher telling the girl police were pulling into the driveway, someone in the background of the recording can be heard reporting shots were fired and the faint sound of gunfire — six or seven shots — can be heard.
“Stay right where you are,” the dispatcher ordered the girl.
About 15 seconds after the report of shots fired, someone reported, “suspect down.”
The troopers weren’t hurt.
The girl asked the dispatcher to send someone to get her.
“Stay right there. I’m going to let you know when it’s safe to come out, OK?” the dispatcher said.
In another couple of minutes, she told the girl to go meet troopers outside.
MSP’s 7th District, which covers a different part of the state than the troopers work in, will handle the investigation into the shooting.
MSP says both troopers were wearing body cameras, which the agency is still in the process of rolling out statewide, and that those cameras captured the shooting.
The troopers are on administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation. That’s standard procedure when deadly force is used.
GUN STORE BASED IN HOME
Police say Miller didn’t have any connection to the home.
“It wasn’t someone that knew the people that live there,” MSP Lt. DuWayne Robinson said. “Someone obviously picked this house for other reasons.”
The homeowner is a licensed firearm dealer who runs his business out of his house. The online gun store, which is licensed through the federal government, is called Wild Spirit Outdoors. It sells a variety of guns and ammunition.
One neighbor said the business brings daily traffic to the otherwise quiet area.
“The biggest concern that I had is that guns were being sold out of the house,” neighbor Ryan Klootwyk told News 8. “When I went on the website and saw the kind of weaponry he was selling and I thought, ‘There’s a .50-caliber in there.’ And it says ‘in stock’ with a lot of the weaponry and he doesn’t have anywhere to store it on-site here besides the home.”
He said he was worried it was only a matter of time before something bad happened.
“I believe in the Second Amendment. It’s not about guns; I own three guns,” Klootwyk added. “It’s about the idea that you’re selling guns out of a suburban home at the end of a cul-de-sac.”
The homeowner on Tuesday declined to comment, directing News 8 to MSP. Investigators said they could not comment on whether the break-in was connected to the business.
But at the end of the 911 call, after the shots were fired and as the girl was going outside, she told the dispatcher she also thought the business was the target.
“I think they were trying to steal from my dad, his gun store,” she said.
—News 8’s Jacqueline Francis contributed to this report.