Local News Archives

Prosecutor: Shooting Of Inmate Was Justified

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office has found the July 11 shooting of a jail inmate by court officers to be justified. The office released its analysis of the incident on Wednesday, laying out the circumstances that led to inmate Larry Gordon seizing of an officer’s gun and killing two security officers before being fatally shot by bailiffs. The report says Gordon knew he was facing a lengthy prison sentence, and had told other inmates in the Berrien County Jail he would not be able to do serve it. He also asked them about the courthouse layout. The prosecutor describes how Gordon came to get a gun, take hostages, and then shoot two officers. It says no criminal charges will be filed in Gordon’s shooting. You can see the full analysis below.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seize $30,000 Worth Of Drugs In BH Raid

Two people are facing charges following a drug bust in Benton Harbor Wednesday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us officers raided an apartment at 525 Columbus Avenue around 7 a.m. finding 92 grams of heroin, 188 grams of crack, and three loaded semi-automatic handguns. Police say the estimated value of the drugs alone is about $30,000. The two people arrested both have criminal records. They’re now facing a variety of new charges. Police note the apartment building is less than 1,000 feet from a school.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Standoff Ends Peacefully

A standoff that began after two women on horseback were struck by a vehicle in Cass County has ended peacefully. Michigan State Police say a man surrendered Wednesday morning after barricading himself in his Cass County home Tuesday night. Troopers tell us the man intentionally struck them on Tuesday night, and the women and horses have minor injuries. The standoff began after the 32-year-old refused to talk with investigators, and negotiators were called in because the suspect had weapons in the home. The man, whose name wasn’t immediately released, faces charges of assault and driving without a license.. ...Read Full Story

EMU Students Protest Racist Graffitti

Students at Eastern Michigan University are protesting after more anti-black graffiti was discovered on campus this week. The protests include a sit-in early Wednesday at the EMU Student Center on the school’s Ypsilanti campus. The university says the graffiti was discovered Monday spray-painted on the exterior of Ford Hall and was immediately removed. On Tuesday, school President Jim Smith announced the creation of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. He says in a message to campus that the vandalism is “hateful” and says the school is working to foster respect, equity and inclusion. The university has said that a reward for information about similar graffiti that appeared in late September has been doubled to $10,000 and applies to the latest incident as well. The earlier graffiti led to protests.. ...Read Full Story

Cancer Claims Van Buren 911 Dispatch Director

The director of 911 dispatch in Van Buren County has died from cancer. Jeri Tapper was 59 and died yesterday after a four-year battle against the disease. According to her obituary, Tapper had been at the helm of Van Buren County 911 Dispatch for 29 years. The Paw Paw native is survived by her husband, two children, seven grandchildren, both parents, and two sisters. Tapper’s visitation will be Friday morning at 10 at Adams Funeral Home in Paw Paw, with her funeral to follow at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka To Receive Farm Bureau Award

A special honor is being given to state Representative Al Pscholka this week. The Berrien County Farm Bureau is presenting him with its Distinguished Service to Agriculture award. The bureau says it’s for Pscholka’s ongoing support of ag interests in Lansing. Among other things, it says Pscholka has worked with state and federal agencies on the great freeze that damaged crops in Southwest Michigan in 2012, and ensured there’s money in the budget for fruit research. Pscholka tells us he started his campaign six years ago at Radom’s Farm in Bainbridge Township to highlight the ag heritage of southwest Michigan, so it’s kind of fitting for his service to come full circle with the award. He’ll get it Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Firefighters Return From Competition

Firefighters for the Palisades nuclear power plant are back home after spending last week competing in the Scott World Firefighter Combat Challenge in Alabama. Fire Brigade Marshal Bill Gruppen tells WSJM News the team took part in what ESPN has called the toughest two minutes in sports. It helps them stay on their toes.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Racers Rally To Help Boy With Leukemia

The mother of a 5-year-old southwest Michigan boy who is battling leukemia is thanking the local racing community for its outpouring of support. Leah Dibble, who co-owns the Hartford Motor Speedway with her husband, Tim, says their son Timmy was diagnosed with the disease last month. He’s been in a Kalamazoo hospital since.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Fire District Chief Arrested On Child Porn Charges

Michigan State Police have arrested the suspended chief of the Allegan Fire District for allegedly making child pornography. Troopers say 34-year-old Matthew Donald Gillies is charged with second degree criminal sexual conduct and manufacturing child sexually abusive material, among other things. They accuse him of uploading videos of himself engaged in sexual activity with a child to the internet. Gillies was suspended last month when the investigation began. If convicted, he could get up to 20 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Clinton Campaign Buying Ads In Michigan

Hillary Clinton is also making plans to air TV commercials in typically Democratic Michigan and New Mexico. Her campaign said Tuesday it will spend more than $100,000 on TV commercials in each of the two states. That announcement came shortly after Republican Donald Trump’s campaign said it would be advertising there. Clinton’s campaign earlier confirmed it will be advertising in Colorado for the first time since July. And it also is deploying ads in Virginia for the first time since early August. Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said the Trump campaign sees a path through these states, but “we’re going to make sure those doors remain shut.” Trump has to win some traditionally Democratic states to secure the 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Bridge Marking Birthday Today

On this day in history, the Mackinac Bridge opened to traffic 59 years ago in 1957. We take it for granted now, but what did people do to go from the lower to upper peninsula and vice-versa before the bridge? Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney has an answer.. ...Read Full Story

One Of Berrien County’s Most Wanted Fugitives Caught

One of Berrien County’s most wanted fugitives is now behind bars. Michigan State Police tell us 50-year-old Steven Duane Clark of Benton Township was arrested last evening in the area of Blue Creek and Territorial roads in Benton Township around 6:30. Clark was wanted for a three-count felony warrant for sex offender violations, forgery, and child support. Troopers got a tip of where he might be working yesterday and learned he hadn’t had that job for months. More interviews followed, leading investigators to his vehicle for a traffic stop. Sergeant Steve Barker says the arrest was made “much to the glee of the trick-or-treaters in the area,” and adds parents were also relieved. Clark is now in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Campaign Causing Uneasy Feelings In MI Classrooms

In what used to be a perfect time for a lesson in how government works, the tone of the presidential campaign this year is creating uncomfortable conversations in high school classrooms. Some civics teachers say they’ve been faced with questions that would typically not be topics of conversation in their classrooms. Biology teacher Frank Burger, of Flint Township.. ...Read Full Story

Candidate Forum In Benton Harbor Tuesday

Some candidates for Benton Harbor-area offices and for the state House are expected to appear at a forum in Benton Harbor Tuesday. Partly organized by the Twin Cities Chapter of the NAACP, the forum will be at the library starting at 6 p.m. Organizer Dorothy Parker tells WSJM News everyone can take part.. ...Read Full Story

MI Secretary Of State To Keep Some Offices Open Election Day

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office says some branch offices will remain open on election day next Tuesday. Most Michigan government offices will be shut down for the day, but Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says select locations will be staffed for anyone who has emergency business to conduct. Among them is the office in Benton Harbor. Johnson adds that late fees for licenses and registrations expiring on November 8 will be waived if customers renew the next day. She also notes many transactions, like vehicle plate tab and driver’s license renewals, can also be done at ExpressSOS.com.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Campaigns In Michigan

Donald Trump is warning again about voter fraud – but has a solution for his supporters. The Republican nominee once again said there is widespread voter fraud, a claim for which he has produced no evidence. But he told supporters at a rally Monday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that they should “get out and vote by the millions and we won’t have to worry about what is taking place behind the scenes.” Trump made his pitch during a foray into Democrat-leaning Michigan. The state hasn’t gone for a Republican since 1988, but may prove essential for Trump’s
electoral map. Several studies suggest that voter fraud is extremely rare. Trump’s warning in Michigan came a day after he criticized the mail-in voting system in Colorado, suggesting that it is ripe for fraud.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Veteran To Receive World War II Medals Tuesday

An 89-year-old Buchanan man is finally receiving the honors he earned while serving in World War II. Oris Aldrich is to be presented with his service medals by Congressman Fred Upton Tuesday morning. Aldrich was just 17 when he joined the US Navy in 1945. He was assigned to the USS Leo, which was in the Pacific Theater of the war, where he served for 15 months. He sought help from Congressman Upton’s office to get the medals he believed he should receive, and his request has been approved by the Navy. Adrich will get a total of of eight honors on Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Mayor Announces Next Round Of Pipe Replacements

Lead and galvanized steel service lines are expected to be replaced this fall in 788 Flint homes as the city continues efforts to stop lead-tainted water from flowing through residential taps. Mayor Karen Weaver on Monday will announce neighborhoods targeted for the work in the third phase of her FAST Start initiative. The work is being paid with $25 million from the state. Water lines were replaced in 218 homes during phase two. Flint was under state financial control in 2014 when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. Officials failed to treat the river water with corrosion-control chemicals which allowed lead to leach from pipes. Tests later showed high lead levels in some Flint children. Flint has since returned to Detroit’s water system.. ...Read Full Story

MI Sees Drop In High-Security Inmates

Michigan Department of Corrections data show the number of prisoners housed in higher-security cells in Michigan’s prison system has
plummeted over the last two decades, while the number of prisoners kept in less expensive, low-security housing units has soared. The Detroit Free Press reports there were nearly 1,700 prisoners with the highest security rating in 1995. There were less than half as many inmates at
that level by 2015. Corrections officers have said the department is pushing down prisoners’ security classifications to save money, but spokesman Chris Gautz has denied that claim. He says some of the classification numbers are misleading because the way some prison beds are classified has changed. The Michigan Corrections Officers union says pushing down security classifications is a dangerous practice that can lead to violent incidents.. ...Read Full Story

Morning Crash Closes Part Of US-31

Four people are recovering after being injured in a crash that shut down part of US-31 in Niles Township Monday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened near Niles Buchanan Road just before 7 a.m. A 2005 Dodge Stratus was headed south on US-31 and straddling the fog line while dealing with a mechanical problem. Another southbound vehicle approached from behind it and crashed into the Stratus. The Niles Township Fire Department had to use the Jaws of Life to free two passengers from the back of the Dodge. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Reward Offered In CMU Hit And Run Case

A cash reward for information about the death of a Central Michigan University student has been increased to $10,000. Police believe the vehicle that hit Ryan Tsatsos nearly a year ago is a dark metallic blue color. The vehicle could likely have front passenger side damage and potentially fender, windshield and hood damage. Julie Lopez of Crime Stoppers says Tsatsos was hit and killed while walking to his residence hall.. ...Read Full Story

September Home Sales Up In Southwest Michigan

Homes sales in southwest Michigan remain strong, as the latest numbers show a 14% jump for the month this year over last year. Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Vice President Gary Walter tells us September’s unit sales were the highest the region has seen in the month for ten years. It’s a good time to buy.. ...Read Full Story