PAW PAW, Mich. — A 49-year-old truck driver from Wisconsin is in critical condition after being shot by police who say he had broken into a home and stolen a kitchen knife.
A Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office deputy and an officer with the Paw Paw Police Department have been placed on administrative leave following the shooting Thursday night. This is standard policy and procedure for any officer-involved shooting.
Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott told FOX 17 on Friday that the man is a truck driver from Wisconsin, who had been involved in a hit-and-run crash in the Chicago area at some point Thursday.
"It appears at this time that he was actually pulling a trailer, hit an overpass, bridge-type thing, left the trailer lodged there, and wound up in Paw Paw,” Abbott said.
The man is believed to have first stopped at The Copper Grille just off I-94, ditching the cab of his truck in their parking lot.
Dispatch received a 911 call around 9:30 p.m. about a man cutting himself in a driveway. Sheriff Dan Abbott says, from there, “he walked through town, down Michigan avenue, down Hazen, down into the country.”
In frigid temperatures, he somehow made it to a home on County Road 374, where he pushed his way inside.
Sheriff Abbott says they believe the man stole a kitchen knife from inside the home and then went back outside to the driveway.
“The actual homeowners of that residence called 911 saying an unknown man was in their driveway cutting his arms with a knife," he told FOX 17.
“I couldn’t imagine being in the citizen's shoes, dealing with what they dealt with last night. They're sitting at home, enjoying family time, and an unknown subject barges into their house, and then goes out into the driveway and starts doing what he did.”
Once police became aware of the man via the homeowners 911 call, they quickly headed out to the scene to try and make contact with him.
“Once the officers got on scene, they end up seeing a blood trail going out the driveway and down the roadway.
The Sheriff's K9 unit started tracking the subject, eventually finding him about a 1/3 of a mile away near a home on Orchard Lane.
FOX 17 spoke to a woman who lives right next door to the home that the subject was tracked to. She just happened to be standing at her front window when the confrontation happened.
“I mean, one in a billion happen to be standing here, and I saw it," the woman who asked to remain anonymous said.
“I could see very clearly that it was two police officers and the dog, there was the scuffle, and then one of the police officers had fallen down.”
Police say the suspect, still wielding the kitchen knife, charged at the officers.
“They kept on saying, drop it, drop it, you know, drop it,” the woman who saw everything said.
Sheriff Abbott says the man did not comply with the officer's orders and continued to approach them armed.
"It was a very dangerous situation and ultimately the ended up firing their weapons, shooting the subject,” he said.
"The officer and deputy involved, they did everything they could do to avoid that situation."
The man was transported to Bronson Methodist Hospital for his injuries, and remains in critical condition. He already has multiple surgeries scheduled. Charges won't be considered until the man's condition improves.
The 49-year-old is described as a white man with brown/grayish hair and a goatee.
If you saw or interacted with him on Thursday, you are asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office at (269) 657-2006.
They are still working to piece together the entire chain of events in Paw Paw, and ask the public to share any information they may have to help the process.