June 20 • 04:17 PM

Capac baffled by shooting

Neighbors shocked by suspect's behavior

April 23, 2008
CAPAC — It's been a week and residents are still grappling with the aftermath of last Wednesday's shooting that left Police Chief Raymond Hawks severely injured.

While he remains on a ventilator in serious condition at Port Huron Hospital following three surgeries, there's talk of welcome home celebrations for the 64 year old and yellow and blue ribbons have gone up around town.

Police and prosecutors are in the midst of readying themselves to bring three attempted murder charges against the 50 year old alleged shooter, Donald Burke.

Some of Burke's neighbors, who came rushing to Hawks' aid on April 16, were shaken by what they witnessed and left wondering why the William G. Drive resident took aim at Hawks, St. Clair County Sheriff's Deputy Tim O'Boyle and tow truck driver Mike Thorpe.

So far there are few answers as to why it happened or what's to come for many of the people involved, but some action has been taken amidst the uncertainty.

Over the weekend, a staffer from the county's mental health department held two debriefings—one for police department staff and the other for the citizens who risked their lives to pull Hawks out of harm's way.

"(A couple) said they haven't slept since Wednesday," Manager Dennis Collison said of the affected residents.

Council President Mark Klug said that it's possible a community debriefing will be organized in the near future, to allow citizens to ask questions about the events of April 16. Klug said it's likely various emergency responders will want to sit down and evaluate how it all unfolded, from the school lockdown to communications on scene and more.

Still, it's unbelievable to almost everyone that gunshots would ring out on the quiet streets of Capac.

"We got along great," Bill Klobnock said of his neighbor Burke on Thursday, the day after the shooting.

About a week-and-a-half ago, Burke came over to borrow a car jack, Klobnock's son said. The neighbors had frequent interactions over the last eight years. Klobnock lived on William G. Drive.

Anthony and Bill Klobnock rehash the events of April 16 from their front porch that involved neighbor and friend Donald Burke. Burke’s home is visible in the background. photo by Maria Brown.
When Burke learned that his neighbors were set to move soon, he told Klobnock he "wanted to keep in contact."

So Klobnock was more than baffled when he was awakened Wednesday around 2:15 p.m. by a commotion and looked out his front door to see Hawks laying on the sidewalk calling out for help. Klobnock had been sleeping on his couch and it was his girlfriend, Monica Teem, who heard the gunshots.

They discovered the police chief was bleeding and ran to retrieve towels and applied pressure to his wounds. Klobnock said he ran back inside to grab a pair of scissors to cut Hawks' shirt off.

Other neighbors, including Sandra Jaros and Andy Kokozska, came to assist. Hawks had been hit twice in the torso standing less than 30 feet away from Burke.

"We tried to load him in the back of the patrol car," Klobnock said, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

"He said to me, 'I can't breathe,'" Klobnock said of Hawks, who appeared to be in shock.

"That's when the driver from Mike's Towing dropped his tailgate and we loaded him onto the back of the tow truck."

All the while, it was assumed Burke was still in his home, armed.

Klobnock says he's not sure if it was adrenaline that pushed him to run into the midst of a crime scene or subconsciously, he trusted that Burke wouldn't shoot at him.

Regardless, Klobnock knew Hawks had to be taken to the ambulance because it wasn't coming to them. Dispatchers told him that paramedics wouldn't be sent to an unsecured scene.

"We knew we just had to get him safe," Klobnock said.

Burke had also taken shots at O'Boyle and Thorpe as they pulled up to his home. Two rounds went through O'Boyle's windshield, one grazing the right side of the deputy's head. Others hit the tow truck but not the driver.

According to Sheriff Dan Lane, Hawks had been attempting to pull Burke over for reckless driving. The pursuit ended in Burke's driveway and O'Boyle was sent for backup at Hawks' request.

"I expect problems," Hawks allegedly told dispatchers.

That's when he also called for a wrecker to tow Burke's car, a common practice in such a situation, Lane said.

After firing off several rounds, police believe, Burke retreated into his home, threw down his .22 caliber rifle and ran out the back door without being detected.

Special response team members, heavily armed and armored, gathered at the scene and a tank-like personnel carrier, stationed in Macomb County, was requested. Just before 5 p.m., Lane briefed the news media, saying that negotiators were trying to make contact with Burke inside his home.

Later that evening, police stormed the home only to learn it was empty.

At the request of Mike Pirrone Produce owner, Joe Pirrone, special response team police searched the nearby produce packing buildings. Lane said Pirrone was concerned for the safety of his employees who would be reporting to work early on Thursday morning, considering all the 'nooks and crannies' his outbuildings afforded.

"The SRT unit found Burke laying on the floorboards of a pickup there," Lane said at a Thursday morning briefing outside the sheriff's department.

About 12 hours after the first shots were fired, Burke was physically removed from the truck when he wouldn't get up as ordered by police. He was unarmed.

Enroute to the jail, Burke complained of chest discomfort and was taken to a hospital where he was placed under observation before eventually undergoing a heart-related procedure, the sheriff's department said.

Once he's released from medical care, Burke will be arraigned on three counts of attempted murder, which carry a sentence of any number of years up to life in prison. He is under guard by two uniformed deputies.

According to Prosecutor Mike Wendling, Burke has no prior felony criminal history.

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