12-22-2016 Police and Fire Reports

Police and Fire Reports

By Annette Christie

Watervliet Twp. police activity

  Berrien County Sheriff Deputy Guy Puffer who patrols in Watervliet Township reports that in the month of November there were 11 misdemeanor arrests, three felony arrests, made 41 traffic stops, and wrote 33 citations.  He and Deputy Goff assisted other agencies 21 times, performed 52 residential and business checks, investigated 27 complaints, and had five follow up complaints. Puffer would like to remind residents that there has been different breaking and entering in the area and that people need to keep their eyes open and watch out for their neighbors.   He urges people that if something looks out of place, the police should be contacted so it can be checked. “Don’t hesitate to call,” Puffer said.

He also urges residents that leave the area for the winter to complete a form at Watervliet Township Hall and file it with the police department so they know when people are gone and can pay extra attention to those residences that are not occupied.  The form is available at Watervliet Charter Township Hall or on their website (property check form).

Watervliet Fire Department responses

  The Watervliet Fire Department had 28 responses in the month of November.  Of those calls, 20 were in Watervliet Township and eight were in the city.   There were a variety of calls including structure fires, power line calls, and medical first responder calls.  The department also conducted a fire drill at the high school, as well as other drills.

Chief Jones said that the department has responded to 10 structure fires since Thanksgiving and just Monday assisted with a structure fire in Covert.

Berrien County Sheriff Sergeant injured in I-94 accident

  The Michigan State Police Niles Post is investigating an injury crash where a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department sergeant was struck in his traveling vehicle on I-94 eastbound near Watervliet exit 41.

The crash occurred on December 14 at approximately 1:00 p.m. and involved four vehicles.  The Berrien County Sheriff patrol car was full marked and was escorting a slower moving vehicle off of the freeway with the lights activated.  A pickup truck, driven by a 32 year-old Hartford man approached at a significantly higher rate of speed striking the patrol car in the rear bumper.  The patrol car was pushed into the escorted semi-truck and then into an additional semi-truck traveling to the side of the patrol car.  The crash caused extensive damage to the pickup truck and the patrol car.

The Berrien County Sheriff Sergeant suffered injuries and was transported by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital.  He has since been released.

The driver of the pickup truck had to be removed from the vehicle by the fire department.  He was transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Kalamazoo and was listed in stable condition.  The Michigan State Police in their investigation stated that narcotic drugs appear to be a factor in the driver’s actions and the crash.

Eastbound I-94 was closed during the investigation. Updates on the investigation will be provided by the Michigan State Police.

Fallen Troopers Memorial Service

  On Friday, December 31, 2016, at 1:00 p.m., the Michigan State Police will conduct a memorial service recognizing the 45-year anniversary of fallen troopers, Gary Rampy and Charles Stark. The memorial service will be held at the New Buffalo Township Hall, 17425 Red Arrow Hwy., New Buffalo.

Troopers Gary T. Rampy and Charles B. Stark were shot and killed during the traffic stop of a suspected drunk driver near New Buffalo. At 2:30 a.m. on December 31, 1971, Troopers Rampy and Stark resumed patrol following a coffee break with fellow troopers from another patrol car.  They had been discussing drunk drivers.  At 2:55 a.m., a citizen called the post advising that the officers had been shot.

It is theorized that at 2:50 a.m., the troopers’ attention was drawn to a vehicle making a u-turn in front of them. It was later learned that when the officers signaled the vehicle to stop, the driver obtained a gun from the back seat and placed it in his waistband.

When the officers approached the car, the driver was unable to produce an operator’s license and was taken back to the patrol car by one of the troopers.  While at the patrol car, the suspect apparently got the drop on Trooper Rampy.  Trooper Stark was then called back to the patrol car and he too was disarmed.  The suspect then shot both officers.  Although pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital, both troopers died as they fell beside their patrol car.

Nearby residents heard the shooting and called the post.  The officers that had just completed the coffee break with the mortally wounded troopers were less than one mile from the scene, and arrived in time to observe the suspect vehicle as it was leaving the area.  Shots were fired at the fleeing car with no effect.

The responding troopers gave chase with the fleeing vehicle.  A shotgun blast was fired, striking the vehicle, and the driver stopped.  He fled on foot after attempting to fire at the pursuing troopers.  One of the officers chased the suspect on foot and ordered him to stop. After repeated warnings, the suspect was fired upon and killed.

It was learned that the suspect was wanted in Tennessee for parole violations, had been linked with several armed robberies, and had killed one person in a drug store hold up.

Trooper Rampy was the 26th MSP Trooper to die in the line of duty.  Trooper Stark was the 27th MSP Trooper to die in the line of duty.