May 21 • 03:00 AM

'I thought I was dying'

Deputy testifies at preliminary exam of Capac man charged in April shooting

May 28, 2008
PORT HURON — Although his injuries weren't listed as critical, St. Clair County Sheriff's Deputy Tim O'Boyle was afraid for his life when two bullets flew through his cruiser's windshield in Capac on April 16.

He was grazed in the head by one, knocking off his glasses and leaving him dazed.

Donald Burke is wheeled into his pre-trial hearing on Tuesday morning in St. Clair County District Court. He was bound over to stand trial on three counts of attempted murder. photo by Maria Brown.
"I actually thought I was dying," O'Boyle said from the witness stand Tuesday morning during alleged shooter Donald Burke's pre-trial hearing.

His testimony and the accounts of several others on the scene gave Judge John Monaghan sufficient evidence to bind Burke, 50, over to circuit court to face trial on three counts of attempted murder. Capac Police Chief Raymond Hawks was seriously injured in the shooting, but is making strides in his recovery at Port Huron Hospital. The third attempted murder charge comes from shots fired at tow truck driver Michael Thorpe of Mike's Towing in Capac.

Burke's court appointed attorney Frederick Lepley asked Monaghan to consider a lesser charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.

"He was taking aim," Monaghan said of Burke, referring to Thorpe's testimony.

"The stock of the rifle was pressed into his cheek."

Thorpe said he had just backed his tow truck into Burke's driveway on William G. Dr. in the village when the shots started to ring out. Hawks, who'd requested Burke's vehicle be towed as the result of an alleged reckless driving complaint, stood in the driveway talking to Thorpe. Hawks was shot first.

From his driver's seat, Thorpe said he ducked for cover but watched Burke through his truck's side mirror. Burke, standing on his front porch, was bracing himself against a post while shooting. Several were aimed at Thorpe's truck about head-level he said, but he was not injured.

Thorpe and several neighbors ran to Hawks' aid, eventually carting him away from the scene on Thorpe's tow truck.

O'Boyle said he was just pulling up to the scene when two bullets pierced his windshield. He saw Hawks rolling toward the back of his car.

The rest of the details are fuzzy, he said. At some point, he put the squad car in reverse and positioned it to protect himself. He said he attempted to step out.

"My legs wouldn't move so I just rolled out onto the pavement," O'Boyle said.

In the end, his injuries only required a few staples to close the wound in his head.

Before the proceedings, a sheriff's deputy pushed Burke into the courtroom in a wheelchair. Burke underwent triple bypass surgery soon after being captured in the early morning hours of April 17. After the shooting, Burke fled his home and hid in a truck at Mike Pirrone's Produce for almost 12 hours before police caught him. He's lodged in the county jail on a $3 million bond.

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