By WSBT 22 Team Coverage
An investigation is underway after an officer-involved shooting in Benton Harbor Tuesday morning. A source confirmed to WSBT 22 the subject involved has been identified as Darius Wimberly.
Police are still investigating why the shooting started and if the officers’ actions were justified.
“There were four to five shots and were being shot towards the residence. Officers felt as if they were being shot at. Officer describes it as having a bullet whiz by his head,” said Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Daniel McGinnis.
(Learn More, courtesy of WOOD TV8 and YouTube)
Police say a call came in around 2:17 a.m. reporting a man was being held at gunpoint by another man on Pavone Avenue.
When officers arrived they approached a house that fit the description of the caller. They were able to approach cautiously and speak to residents within the home.
Residents said they had not called police, were very cooperative and allowed officers to check the home. Police did not find anything.
According to a release, officers were leaving the home when a man in the street fired several shots at them. That is the man the source said was Darius Wimberly.
“He sees a muzzle flash, shots rang out,” McGinnis said. “The officers then engages the subject as he shoots at the house on Pavone Street.”
Three of the four officers were wearing body cameras showing a play-by-play as officers responded to gunfire.
“During the course of the shots being fired, the woman who was walking, who was in the streets when the shot ran out — you can see on video her running, and one of the officers grabbed her and pulled her to cover, and got her to safety,” McGinnis said.
Investigators with Michigan State Police believe Wimberly was riding his bike as he fired the rounds, seven from one of his two guns. A police officer fired 15 back.
“There’s information that the individual that showed up on the scene, the suspect if you will, was at that scene because he was targeting an individual at the residence,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Charles Christensen.
The director of the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety said the department has nothing to hide and plans to release all of the video evidence.
“We understand people will be hot. We understand people will have their own opinions. I think we can agree to disagree peacefully,” McGinnis said.
(Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis holds a press conference on the fatal police shooting of a gunman on the 900 block of Pavone Street early Tuesday morning. Courtesy of MLive and YouTube)
No one else was injured in this shootout.
Police are not releasing the name of the officer involved, but tell WSBT 22 he is in his mid-20s and has been on the force for about a year. He’s been placed on paid administrative leave.
A press conference was held in Benton Harbor around 11:20 a.m.
Officers said the man had two handguns and that all the guns retrieved were semi-automatic handguns.
Once the subject was down, police said, the gun he was shooting was expelled of all rounds. A second firearm in his pocket on his left leg was found. Both were confiscated and kept as evidence.
The shooter was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A small crowd gathered outside Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph after the incident. Michigan State Police sent back-up there.
WSBT 22 spoke to a woman who identified herself as the grandmother of the man who was shot. She said the family is heartbroken, shocked and asking for prayers.
Police had prior interactions with the subject, other instances and complaints involving him. He was “known” among Benton Harbor police, according to officials.
Evidence suggests the caller may have known the man was targeting the residence, police said.
Police are investigating the nature of all relationships of those involved. They have one suspect.
Police are not calling the incident an ambush.
(Hear from Mayor Marcus Muhammad, courtesy of WSBT-TV and YouTube)
Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad spoke at a press conference at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“My message to the community is please to allow the investigative process to take place and without drawing premature conclusions,” Muhammad said. “It’s very important that we exercise patience and restraint in this very tough time.”
Both Michigan State Police and Berrien County Police are taking over the investigation.
“For the purpose of transparency and public trust with situations like this, Michigan State Police should come in and handle those investigations. It is totally at this point taken out of our hands.”
“The only part we have is the internal investigation which will indicate whether any policy or procedures have been broken.
“We feel it is best served for our community for the part department the Michigan State police comes in, investigates and is proactive and without bias,” said a Benton Harbor Police representative.”