Local News Archives

One Arrested In Child Abuse Case Involving 3-Month-Old

An arrest has been made in a Berrien County child abuse case involving a baby. Michigan State Police tell WSJM News they were called out to investigate a suspected case of abuse on Thursday in Weesaw Township. They arrived to find a 3-month-old had suffered critical injuries to the skull. The baby was first taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, and then to Helen Devos Childrens Hospital in Grand Rapids. The infant was listed in stable condition as of Friday morning. A 33-year-old suspect has been charged with child abuse in the case, along with assault and probation violation. State police say the investigation continues, and more information will be released later.. ...Read Full Story

Police Remove More Than 100 Cats From MI Home

From the Associated Press — Authorities say they temporarily evacuated a home in southern Michigan after a woman was found living with more than 100 cats. The animal control divisions of the Calhoun County sheriff’s department and the Battle Creek Police Department went to the home in Athens on Thursday as part of an investigation into suspected animal cruelty. The sheriff’s department says the 113 cats were found “in various conditions of health and sanitation” and they were removed from the home. Investigators say the 64-year-old woman living with them was cooperative. County health officials say the home is habitable, but tests found high levels of ammonia and methane as well as decreased oxygen levels. The home was evacuated for the night so it could be appropriately ventilated. The woman could face charges.. ...Read Full Story

Six Arrested At Flint Water Meeting

From the Associated Press — Police say six people were arrested for disorderly conduct or other reasons at a Flint church during a town hall meeting related to the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water. Flint police Chief Tim Johnson had asked men arriving at House of Prayer
Missionary Baptist Church on Thursday evening to remove their hats and warned all in attendance not to disrupt the meeting. The Flint Journal reports officers stopped men wearing hats from entering and men who wouldn’t remove them were asked to leave. Arguments occurred and people who used profanity also were escorted from the church. The event was held after Flint Mayor Karen Weaver reversed course Tuesday and
recommended the city continue getting its drinking water from a Detroit-area system long term instead of a new pipeline.. ...Read Full Story

Five Charged In Van Buren County Robbery, Assault

Five people have been charged with a home invasion and assault in Van Buren County early this year. It happened on January 26 in the 15,000 block of 41st Street in Bloomingdale Township. A 53-year-old man was sitting in his home when there was a knock at the door. He opened it, and four people pushed their way inside, held a gun to him, and told him to open his safe. The suspects made off with some guns. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it identified persons of interest right away, and now it has enough evidence to charge them as suspects. They are Jalin Beebe, of Bangor, Caleb Johson, of Bloomingdale, Spencer Marbley, Leo Cottle, and Michael Bird, all from Kalamazoo. They’re charged with armed robbery resulting in injury, home invasion, and felony firearm. The suspects have all been arraigned and bound over for trial.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Safe Delivery Of Newborns Law

A state law designed to help protect the safety of unwanted newborns is being highlighted this week. As part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone of the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it allows a new parent to leave a baby with police, firefighters, or nurses within 72 hours of its birth, no questions asked.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Announce New Grants To Fight Opioid Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a round of grants to help states fight opioid abuse. The grants were created under the 21st Century Cures law, championed by Congressman Fred Upton last year. He tells us a total of $485 million in opioid grants are being administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the money is used to prevent abuse and treat addiction. Upton says opioid abuse is something that seems to have touched just about everyone, and he applauded HHS for being quick about getting the grants out there.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer Offering New Tax Payment Plans

A couple of programs allowing delinquent property taxpayers to get a reduced interest rate on what they owe have been started by the Berrien County Treasurer’s office. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News, normally, the interest rate on late payments is either 12 or 18%. However, he’s offering a different arrangement.. ...Read Full Story

Statements Made By Kalamazoo Shooting Spree Suspect To Be Used At Trial

From the Associated Press — Prosecutors cannot use some statements made by a Michigan man who is charged with killing six people in between picking up riders for Uber. Judge Alexander Lipsey said Thursday that Kalamazoo police were too aggressive when Jason Dalton indicated that he didn’t want to talk about a series of shootings in the Kalamazoo area in February 2016. But the judge also says separate statements made to state police can be used as evidence at Dalton’s trial, which is scheduled to begin in June. Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder. Investigators have quoted him as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the night of the shootings. Dalton has been found competent to understand the charges and assist his attorney.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Unemployment Rate Falls In March

From the Associated Press — The state says Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in March while the number of people entering the workforce continued to grow. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday the rate fell from 5.3 percent in February and compared with a national March rate of 4.5 percent. Last month’s jobless rate in Michigan was two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state’s year-ago rate of 4.9 percent. The agency says the state’s workforce rose by 6,000 with an increase in total employment by 17,000 jobs. The number of unemployed workers fell by 11,000. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason
Palmer said that while Michigan’s unemployment rate has hovered around 5 percent since mid-2015, the number of employed Michiganders continues to grow.. ...Read Full Story

National Transportation Safety Board Issues Report On Kalamazoo Bike Fatalities

From the Associated Press — The National Transportation Safety Board says better communication between police agencies might have prevented the deaths of five bicyclists last year in southwestern Michigan. A pickup truck plowed into a pack of cyclists on a rural road near Kalamazoo last June. The driver, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and driving while under the influence of drugs.
The NTSB says 22 minutes passed between the first 911 call about an erratic driver and the crash in Cooper Township. The board says Pickett might have been intercepted by an officer if dispatchers for three police agencies had shared more information among themselves about three 911 calls. NTSB member Earl Weener disagreed last week. He’s not convinced that communication by dispatchers was a contributing factor in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged In Double Murder Found Incompetent For Trial

There’s been another delay in the case of Alex Perez, the man charged in a Coloma double murder last year. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News Perez has been found incompetent for trial again. That’s after doctors at a psychiatric center where he’s been staying told a judge he’s unable to assist in his own defense due to delusions. Perez is charged in the deaths of Renee and John Mitchell last January. Police say he killed the father and daughter, and then kidnapped the two children he’d had with Renee Mitchell. He was arrested not long after in Colorado. The Perez case will be reviewed again in July, and at that time, if doctors still say he’s incompetent for trial, he could be committed.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Schools Could Seek Improvement Bond

Lakeshore Schools could be pursuing another improvement bond. Superintendent Phil Freeman tells WSJM News he’s proposing a more than $20 million bond for next year to complete upgrades proposed in a 2012 facilities study. The work would include reconstructed parking lots, door replacements, and lighting updates at the elementary and middle school buildings. Also, there’s some work needed at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seek Two In Cloning Of St. Joseph Woman’s Credit Card

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department could use your help in finding the people responsible for stealing a St. Joseph woman’s identify. It says on March 28, St. Joseph Public Safety responded to a complain about illegal use of the woman’s credit card. A cloned card was used by two suspects at several Walmart stores around west Michigan. Police have released surveillance photos of the suspects, which you can see above. The sheriff’s department tells us if you can identify the suspects, Crimestoppers could pay you up to $1,000. The number is 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

17-Year-Old Arraigned In Shooting Of St. Joseph Man

A 17-year-old is facing several charges in the shooting of a St. Joseph man over the weekend. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News Dakota Matthew Stanley was arraigned this week on charges of assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He’s accused of shooting 33-year-old Thomas Lewallen on Sunday morning following a dispute between Lewallen and his wife at a home in Milton Township. The prosecutor says Stanley intervened in that fight, shooting Lewallen once. Lewallen was taken to a hospital for treatment, while Stanley was arrested. At his arraignment Monday, Stanley’s bond was set at $200,000.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Votes To Help Identify People With Special Needs

From the Associated Press — Legislation designed to help identify lost or injured people with special needs will soon reach Governor Rick Snyder. Michigan allows for the fingerprinting of children under age 17 if parents or guardians request it. The legislature voted Wednesday to let parents and guardians of those who have special needs to ask law enforcement for fingerprints and photos to be taken. Supporters say the move would assist law enforcement in reuniting families when those with special needs are scared or unable to identify themselves. A sponsor,
Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, says the caregivers would pay the state police for the extra cost of fingerprinting and taking photos. The bills won unanimous approval and will be enrolled Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Celebrate 100 Years

From the Associated Press — In 100 years, the Michigan State Police has gone from being a temporary wartime emergency force of 300 men to a full-service law enforcement agency with nearly 10 times more employees. The agency marked its centennial Wednesday at the Capitol building in Lansing. Visitors saw displays about the state police’s history. Governor Rick Snyder and other top officials thanked troopers at a reception.
The agency’s roots originated in World War I, when then-Gov. Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force for domestic security. Snyder says the mission remains the same despite technological advances, increased diversity and other changes within the state police. He says it’s “about helping people” and “keeping people safe.” The agency last year rendered aid in about 43,000 traffic crashes and made
nearly 73,000 arrests.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Accused Of Raping Postal Worker Waives Hearing

A 16-year-old charged with sexually assaulting a postal worker as she was delivering mail on his street in Benton Harbor last month remains behind bars on $125,000 bond. He is currently facing charges in juvenile court, but the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office wants him on trial as an adult. If that happens and he’s found guilty of a kidnapping charge, he faces a sentence of life in prison. The assault happened around noon on March 31, and he’s accused of dragging her into the side yard of his house and raping her.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Announces Final Round Of SWM Spirit Tournament

It’s now down to the final two in state Senator John Proos’ Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Each year, Proos asks schools across his district to send him photos showing how they are filled with pride. Proos then pits the different schools up against each other in a bracket-style tournament. The Final Four battles this year were between Watervliet, and Michigan Lutheran and Marcellus and Centreville. Coming out on top to be in the final round are Watervliet and Marcellus. They’ve got about a week left to show Proos which has the most spirit.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect Arraigned In Allegan County Standoff

The suspect in an Easter standoff in Allegan County has been arraigned. The sheriff’s department tells us 27-year-old Michael John Vanderberg is charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm over the incident. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home in Otsego Township on Easter morning on a report of a man with a gun. When they got there, two people came out of the home, but the suspect remained inside. The sheriff’s department had to bring in the SWAT team, which eventually convinced him to come out. Vanderberg remains in the Allegan County Jail with bond set at $10,000.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Opposing Possible EPA Office Closure

The possible closure of the Environmental Protection Agency office in Chicago is being opposed by Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News the EPA is expected to get major cuts in the next federal budget, but he doesn’t think shuttering the office that serves the Great Lakes is a smart move. He’s finding partners who agree.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Mayor Wants To Avoid Water Switch After Lead Crisis

From the Associated Press — Flint’s mayor is recommending that the Michigan city continue getting its drinking water from a regional system, following a crisis that left the supply contaminated with lead. Karen Weaver’s announcement Tuesday to stay with the Great Lakes Water
Authority is a reversal. Last year, she said the city of 100,000 residents would stick with a plan to draw from a new pipeline to Lake Huron that is in the testing phase. But she reevaluated that decision as a condition of Flint receiving $100 million in federal funding to address the man-made disaster. Weaver says switching water sources again is too risky and more expensive. Flint returned to the Detroit-area system in 2015 after it was discovered Flint River water was not treated to reduce lead pipe corrosion for 18 months.. ...Read Full Story

Series Of Protests To Call For Income Tax Cut

From the Associated Press — A conservative group is organizing six protests across Michigan to criticize a dozen House Republicans who voted against cutting the state’s income tax. The Michigan Conservative Coalition said it was holding rallies Tuesday at six post offices to coincide with the tax filing deadline. The protests were scheduled in Birmingham, Mount Clemens, Novi, Holland, Traverse City, and Hudsonville — areas represented by some of the Republicans who voted no. Legislation narrowly defeated in the GOP-led House in February would have lowered the 4.25 percent income tax to 4.05 percent and potentially more. Michigan Conservative Coalition President Rosanne Ponkowski calls Republicans
who voted no the “dirty dozen.” They have said they were being fiscally responsible because lawmakers had not identified spending cuts to offset the lost tax revenue.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sought in Cleveland Facebook Killing is Dead

Pennsylvania State Police say the suspect in the random killing of a Cleveland retiree posted on Facebook has shot and killed himself after a brief pursuit. State police say Steve Stephens was spotted Tuesday morning by state police in Erie County, in the state’s northwest corner. Authorities say police tried to pull Stephens over and, after a brief pursuit, he shot and killed himself. Stephens was wanted on an aggravated murder charge in the shooting death of a 74-year-old retired man in Cleveland on Sunday. He posted video of that shooting on Facebook.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Trending Lower

We’re getting a break at the gas pump right before an expected spike for summertime. Triple-A Michigan’s Susan Hiltz says the statewide average is $2.50, down 6¢ from last week, and we’re paying $2.47 in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

This Is Severe Weather Awareness Week

Prepare now for severe weather. That’s the underlying message to Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week, which started on Sunday. This has not been a normal spring, however, as we’ve already had tornadoes in the state. National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Marino admits it’s an unusual year so far.. ...Read Full Story

Five Area Robotics Teams Heading To World Championship

Five – count ’em – five teams from the Sunset Coast Robotics Alliance are headed to St. Louis, Missouri for the World FIRST Championship April 26-29. St. Joseph’s Average Joes team is headed to St. Louis for the fourth straight year, while Berrien Springs Team 3452 – the GreengineerZ, are going for the second consecutive year. Three are going to Missouri for the first time in the history of their programs. Those are Paw Paw Robotics Team 5462, Cassopolis RoboRangers Team 4325, and Team 4237, which is Team Lance-A-Bot. The five qualified based on their performances over the weekend at the Michigan State Championship at Saginaw Valley State University.. ...Read Full Story

Sleepy Drive Runs Off Road

Driving while sleepy is almost as dangerous as driving drunk. Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke tells WSJM News his office was called to a personal injury crash on Barron Lake Road in Howard Township just after 12:30 Sunday morning. Behnke reports 29-year-old Tiffany Hisler of Dowagiac stated she was southbound on Barron Lake Road when she fell asleep. She ran off the roadway striking multiple mailboxes and a utility pole. She was transported by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in South Bend for further treatment of her injuries. He says she was wearing her safety belt and alcohol is not believed to be a factor and the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Shooting in Benton Township Sends One to Hospital

A shooting Saturday night sends a Benton Township woman to the hospital. Police were called to the scene in the 11-hundred block of Highland just before 11:00 Saturday night in reference to a shooting. They report Courtney Arent with a gunshot wound to her left chest area. Police tell WSJM News she was walking in the Blossom Acres Housing area where she witnessed a verbal disturbance and heard gunshots. She quickly fled the area and realized she had been shot. She was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph for non-life threatening injuries. No one has been identified in the incident and anyone with information are asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department or Crimestoppers.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Man Shot in Milton Township

A St. Joseph man is recovering after being shot Sunday morning in Milton Township. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News that the shooting took place just after 6:00am on Kline Road. 911 operators received an emergency call, indicating a man had been shot. When they arrived, they found 33-year-old Thomas Lewallen laying on the porch with a signal gunshot wound. They report the incident happened after an argument escalated between Lewallen and his wife, when another 17-year-old suspect intervened and shot Lewallen. Officers were able to locate the suspect and he is being held in the Cass County Jail. His name has not been released. Lewallen was transported to South Bend Memorial Hospital for treatment. They report alcohol did play a factor and the incident remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

“White Boy Rick” Gets Hearing Before Michigan Parole Board

The Michigan Parole Board will hold a public hearing on whether to release a Detroit-area drug dealer who has been in prison for 29 years for crimes when he was a teen. The board voted Friday to proceed to the hearing for Richard Wershe, who is better known in Detroit as “White Boy Rick.” The 47-year-old old, who was interviewed by the board chairman in February, is serving a life sentence with occasional opportunities for parole.. ...Read Full Story

#GivingTuesday Successful For Lakeland

#GivingTuesday is giving a financial boost to Lakeland Health’s Marie Yeager Cancer Center. According to Lakeland, $14,000 was raised during the global day of giving for the center from the southwest Michigan community. The Cancer Center provides patients with access to comprehensive cancer care including the latest in technology, highly-qualified medical professionals, and skilled partner physicians. Available programs and services focus on cancer prevention, detection, treatment, education, and support to help provide the best possible quality of life for the residents of southwest Michigan. According to the 2016 Cancer Care Report, a total of 914 cases were treated at Lakeland Health in 2015 with the top three most common cancer sites being female breast with 154, 126 cases of prostate, and 122 cases of lung cancer.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE: Missing Autistic Paw Paw Teen Found Dead

Michigan State Police say a missing 18-year-old Paw Paw High School senior with autism has been found dead. Shawn Capaccio was reported missing after disappearing Thursday morning around 6. Troopers saw him in an area near his home around noon Friday, but weren’t able to make contact with him. Capaccio’s body was found just before 3 p.m. in a wooded area in Paw Paw Township. Foul play is not suspected, but there is no indication of how the young man died. After his first sighting, police said his family did not believe he was in danger.. ...Read Full Story

EPA: No Significant Chemical Discharge From US Steel Spill

The Environmental Protection Agency says water sampling in Lake Michigan and a tributary shows no significant discharge of a potentially carcinogenic chemical from a U.S. Steel wastewater spill in northern Indiana. The EPA said Friday that sampling results showed no significant trace of the chemical hexavalent chromium in the lake or the tributary called Burns Waterway after the Tuesday spill at U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant in Portage, between St. Joseph and Chicago.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Facing Slew Of Drug Charges

A 58-year-old Benton Harbor man is facing drug charges after a traffic stop in Benton Township led to the search of his home and the discovery of cocaine, marijuana, crack cocaine and meth. Police had been tipped off about drug activity at the man’s home in the 400 block of Emery Avenue and got a search warrant after pulling the man over on April 6. Along with the drugs, they also found three guns and over 32-hundred dollars cash in the home. The suspect had $200 on him, with a $10 being marked from the Berrien County Narcotics Buy Fund. Police say the estimated street value of the drugs found at the home is around $12,000. The suspect is expected to be arraigned Monday, and his name is being withheld until then.. ...Read Full Story

Police Trying To Find Missing Autistic Man

Michigan State Police are working to find a missing 18-year-old autistic man from Paw Paw. Detectives tell us Shawn Cappaccio was seen around noon Friday near his home, but troopers haven’t yet been able to make contact with him. He is believed to have Asperger syndrome and authorities say he likely is trying to hide from people. Before Friday’s sighting, he was last seen around 6 a.m. Thursday. Cappaccio’s family no longer believes he’s in danger, but they do want him home. He is 5’8″ and about 160 pounds with shaggy brown hair and black framed glasses.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Damages Geneva Township Home

Nobody injured from a house fire in Geneva Township. South Haven Area Emergency Services were called to a home on County Road 380 near 68th Street around 9:40 Thursday night. They quickly extinguished that fire, with the help of Bangor and Columbia Firefighters. The residents, along with pets, all escaped without injury. The fire was confined to the home’s heat source and the cause remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Mulls Whether To Allow Uber Gunman’s Comments

A Kalamazoo judge is considering whether to allow statements at trial made by an Uber driver accused of fatally shooting six strangers in between picking up riders. Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Alexander Lipsey said Thursday that he would rule by April 20 after hearing arguments.
Police have quoted the suspect, Jason Dalton, as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the night of the shootings around Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Former Benton Harbor Superintendent Charged

Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Leonard Seawood is facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted on charges of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretenses. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic accuses Seawood of being paid for 80 vacation days above and beyond the five his contract allowed per year from July 2010 to October 2015. The prosecutor’s office says the extra day cash payouts totaled around $45,000. Seawood was suspended in April 2015, and he stepped down six months later. When he left, the school district paid him $80,000 as part of a separation agreement. Seawood posted bond and is due back in court for preliminary hearings on April 21 and 27.. ...Read Full Story

[VIDEO] Berrien County Dispatcher of the Year Announced

It’s sometimes overlooked, but the job of a 9-1-1 dispatcher can be among the most stressful positions in law enforcement. To that end, the Berrien County 9-1-1 Advisory Committee is honoring those who did outstanding work in 2016. Chikaming Township Police Chief Todd Taylor made the announcement of this year’s Dispatcher of the Year, Danyeal McGee, Thursday morning before the Berrien County Board of Commissioners.. ...Read Full Story

Crash Sends Paw Paw Man to Hospital

A 24-year-old from Paw Paw suffered life threatening injuries after crash investigators believe he suffered some sort of medical issue and lost control of his SUV as he approached the Stadium drive bridge over U.S.131. Deputies say the man was headed into Kalamazoo from Van Buren County just after 1:00 Wednesday afternoon when his car suddenly veered across a raised median and the opposite traffic lanes, hit the bridge abutment and his car caught fire. Oshtemo Rescue was able to douse the fire and pry the young man out of the wreck. He was admitted to Bronson Methodist in critical condition. The investigation is continuing.. ...Read Full Story

Mass Murderer Pre-Trial Today

Suspected mass murderer Jason Dalton’s lawyers are in court today for a pre-trial hearing to argue that some of the statements that the Cooper Township man made to detectives after his arrest should be suppressed. Judge Alexander Lipsey will hear legal arguments from both the prosecution and the defense. Dalton is the Uber Driver who was arrested after he allegedly shot eight people in three different locations, killing six of them and maiming two women in February last year. Dalton reportedly told detectives several stories, including one claiming that the same Uber App that was telling him where to pick-up passengers had been taken over by a demon and was telling him who to shoot. Judge Lipsey may or may not rule on the motions today.. ...Read Full Story

US Steel: Failed Pipe Apparently Caused Spill

(Portage, IN – AP) – U.S. Steel says a failed pipe apparently caused a spill at the company’s northern Indiana facility that sent a potentially carcinogenic chemical into a Lake Michigan tributary. The company said Wednesday its preliminary investigation shows an expansion joint failed in that pipe Tuesday at its Portage, Indiana, plant.. ...Read Full Story