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Kalamazoo police identify suspect killed in officer-involved shooting

Westnedge Kzoo officer involved shooting 3-20-22.jpg
Posted at 10:29 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 22:56:49-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Kalamazoo police provided an update on a weekend incident where an armed man was shot and killed by a public safety officer.

The department shared a timeline of that incident and body cam video in a press conference on Monday.

The deadly shooting happened late Sunday morning on S. Westnedge Avenue near Minor Avenue.

The man who was shot and killed was identified as 33-year-old Nicholas Conklin from Battle Creek.

"It is a criminal investigation. This is still deemed a homicide, the taking of a life," said Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Vernon Coakley.

Officers were dispatched to the area around 10:14 a.m. following a call into dispatch.

"Dispatch received an anonymous call alleging that Mr. Nicholas Conklin was believed to be armed and driving a stolen black Ford F-150. Additionally, Mr. Conklin was believed to be involved in a recent hit and run accident in Kalamazoo County," said Chief Coakley.

Police say they did a file check on Nicholas Conklin and learned he had five outstanding warrants out for his arrest.

RELATED: KDPS officer returns fire & kills man on South Westnedge

Officers say when they arrived at the scene, they confirmed the black Ford F-150 in the driveway was stolen out of Van Buren County.

KDPS got permission to enter the residence and knocked on the door, requesting Conklin exit the apartment.

"Officers standing on the exterior of that residence observed Mr. Conklin cutting the screen of the second-story window in an attempt to flee. Mr. Conklin retreated back into the residence after observing the officers outside," said Chief Coakley.

Officers say they also saw a woman inside the apartment with Conklin and made contact with her through the door. She reportedly denied Conklin being in the apartment.

While they were standing outside the door, officers heard gunshots coming from inside and a woman scream.

KDPS says officers tried to force the door open because they believed the woman inside had been shot. Police say they heard additional gunfire and moved to a position of cover.

"Mr. Conklin exited the apartment armed with a handgun and advanced toward the officers, on the two officers who were left on the stairwell. A third officer remained on the second floor and fired multiple shots from his handgun at Mr. Conklin stopping his advancement toward the officers on the stairwell. The entire exchange of gunfire lasted less than a minute," said Chief Coakley.

Officers were able to get into the apartment and found the woman inside was uninjured.

First aid was administered to Conklin but he died at the scene.

The officer who shot and killed Conklin has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol in cases like this.

No officers were injured during the incident. Michigan State Police are now overseeing the investigation.

A third body camera recorded the incident but is being withheld for purposes of the investigation. It will be released following the investigation.

Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson also spoke in Monday's press conference saying gun violence is an issue of the highest magnitude in Kalamazoo.

"The last thing we want to have happen in Kalamazoo is for a traumatic and untimely death like this to occur. That is the last thing we want," said Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson.

"We can no longer have the situations that we have had in the past years. We, the community of Kalamazoo have to do this together. It is not the job solely of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. It takes a village for all of us to change," said Chief Coakley.

The girlfriend of Nicholas Conklin also spoke with Fox 17 News on Monday. Lela Thomas of Kalamazoo County said she is still trying to comprehend what happened Sunday morning.

"That Nick is not the Nick that we all know and love, and that we’ve attached ourselves to. This is new to all of us. It is a shock," said Lela Thomas, the girlfriend of Nicholas Conklin.

Thomas said Conklin was recently diagnosed with mental illness and was prescribed medication that did him more harm than good.

"He was more of a man that was made to understand but wasn’t understood. I don’t think he was capable of making all the right decisions all the time. He just needed more help really. He lived a very fast life. He liked to stay moving and stay busy, and taking time to get the help that he needed was pushed to the back burner, I think. I think it also played a part in everything that unfolded. That is unlike him to make such a rash and crazy decision like that. I think that played a big part in it," said Thomas.

Thomas said Nicholas lived everyday to the fullest. He was a mama's boy, loved fast cars and had a fast life.

She said the man she knew seems like a different person than the one involved in this incident.

"It is just sudden and it is unlike him. Nobody saw this coming, at all," said Thomas.

Anybody with any information about the shooting is being asked to contact Kalamazoo County Dispatch at (269) 488-8911 or Silent Observer at (269) 343-2100.

KDPS Officer-Involved Shooting