A loud crash woke Randy Wilkinson who suddenly found himself confronted by a man police said had been breaking into houses and would barricade himself in his neighbor’s house for several hours.
“We were face-to-face,” said Wilkinson.
The suspect, a 34-year-old man who has not been identified at this time, drove into garage doors to break into at least three homes Wednesday morning on West D Avenue in Cooper Township, when many people were already at work.
Investigators said the suspect then broke into a home and barricaded himself inside resulting in a standoff that lasted several hours before he was arrested by Kalamazoo County Sheriff deputies.
A homeowner who confronted the suspect and lead police to his whereabouts spoke exclusively to Newschannel 3.
The suspect crashed into Wilkinson’s garage around 8:30 a.m. to get inside a small porch area but the door to get inside the main house was locked.
“He was pushing on that door, turning the door knob, demanding to come in,” Wilkinson said.
The suspect continued to try to break down the door, but unable to kick the door down, Wilkinson said, the suspect tried to steal his pickup, which was parked in the garage.
Wilkinson took that opportunity to go get his shotgun then returned to the door.
“I opened this door briefly showed him the gun and said ‘you have to leave now,’” Wilkinson said.
After crashing into the garage, the suspect’s black SUV drove off the edge of Wilkinson’s driveway and was suspended on a retention wall.
Investigators said the suspect walked to the house next door, broke into that home and barricaded himself inside. The family of six who lives there was not at home at the time.
Kalamazoo county, city and state police swarmed the area. Portage police officers and the Monroe County Mobile Command Center also responded to the scene.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said, “We make sure people understand that any suspect is not going to dictate the time that we take to do something.”
Nearly four hours into the standoff the metro SWAT team entered the home and arrested the suspect without incident.
Fuller commended Wilkinson for being a good neighbor, scaring off the suspect and then leading police to him.
On the phone with 911, Wilkinson followed the suspect next door to make sure his neighbors weren’t home.
Sheriff Fuller said, “That's why I talk about this all the time. Know your neighbors know what's important know who is supposed to be where and that way if there is an opportunity for you to help you can step up and help and I think this neighbor did that today.”
Wilkinson later sketched out of a map of the inside of his neighbor’s home to help the SWAT team get inside.
The suspect is being held at the Kalamazoo County Jail on charges of home invasion and other outstanding warrants that were previously issued for his arrest. He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
Cooper Elementary was put on a temporary lockdown and West D Avenue was shut down from 14th Street to Douglas Avenue as police searched for the suspect.