WETMORE - Detectives from the Michigan State Police post in Negaunee Township continued today to investigate an officer-involved shooting and car crash that left an Alger County man dead Monday afternoon.
Police said the shooting occurred after a report of an altercation in Christmas and a pursuit by a Munising City Police Department officer down Federal Forest Highway 13, onto the Buckhorn Road where the fleeing suspect's red passenger car crashed.
"It lasted less than 10 minutes," said Lt. Gregory Cunningham, of the Michigan State Police Gladstone post.
Cunningham is overseeing the investigation at the request of Munising Police Chief John Nelson.
Timothy Mitchell, 47, was pronounced dead at the scene, which was located along the Buckhorn Road a mile or so west of Federal Forest Highway 13.
Cunningham said police did not know yet whether Mitchell died from a gunshot wound or the automobile crash. An autopsy, to conclusively determine the manner of death and other information, was conducted at 9:30 a.m. today at Marquette General Hospital in Marquette.
Police said the incident began about 5:30 p.m. Monday when Alger County Sheriff's Office dispatchers received a report an altercation had occurred in Christmas and an intoxicated driver had left the scene.
Cunningham said detectives were trying to determine exactly where the reported altercation took place and what it involved. Police said initial reports a domestic disturbance triggered the event were false.
"At this point, all we know is it was an altercation," Cunningham said. "It was not a domestic violence incident."
Cunningham said a Munising police officer had heard a description of the vehicle and spotted the car in the Munising. The officer tried to stop the car, but the driver allegedly kept driving south and east out of Munising along M-28.
At Federal Forest Highway 13, the driver turned south and was pursued by the Munising officer. Cunningham said there were no state police patrol units in the area at the time to respond to the incident.
Alger County Sheriff's Office deputies moved toward the area.
A few miles down Highway 13, the car turned off onto the Buckhorn Road.
"On the Buckhorn Road, the vehicle crashed," Cunningham said. "After the vehicle crashed, there was an officer involved shooting."
Detectives were working to determine the facts of exactly what occurred at the scene.
Cunningham said he did not know whether Mitchell was armed. He said initial reports gunfire was exchanged between Mitchell and police were false.
Alger County deputies arrived at the scene after the shooting had occurred. Nelson went to the scene and called state police to investigate the incident.
"It was pretty standardized for him to make that request and we accepted," Cunningham said.
A state police accident reconstructionist went to the crash site and personnel from the state police crime laboratories in Marquette and Grayling were also summoned.
Cunningham said the scene was cleared by police about 12:30 a.m. today.
The Munising police officer was placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation takes place. Cunningham said Nelson and Munising City Manager Devin Olson decided to withhold the officer's name until the conclusion of the probe, as is standard practice.
"We're very concerned for the family of the deceased and the officer involved and the city of Munising," Cunningham said. "We're working to get all the facts to present to the Alger County prosecutor for review."
Cunningham said the investigation is expected to take a few weeks to conclude.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.