Attica man awaits fate in lockup
Alleged gunman picked up on Sat. after evading police for 26 hours
January 20, 2010ATTICA — Police on Saturday afternoon arrested the 49-year-old man who'd evaded their capture on Friday afternoon.
Alan John Miller was picked up at 3 p.m. on Saturday, reports Lapeer County Sheriff Lt. Gary Parks. He is currently being lodged in the Lapeer County Jail, Parks says, and is receiving mental health treatment.
After being tipped off around 7:30 a.m. that Miller was alone inside an Attica Road home, law enforcement from the Lapeer County Sheriff's Dept., City of Lapeer K-9 unit and Oakland County Sheriff's Dept. Special Response Team surrounded the home.
Miller was wanted on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, malicious destruction of property and felony firearm stemming from an early Friday morning incident at a Larson Road home. Charges of fleeing and eluding and resisting and obstructing police have since been added to the list.
After approaching the residence with an armored vehicle from the Warren Police Dept., negotiators made telephone contact with Miller and talked him into surrendering.
By then he had evaded arrest for more than 24 hours.
The Larson Road incident occurred around 2 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 15, says a Lapeer County Sheriff's Dept. press release.
Parks says Miller allegedly brandished two weapons at the home and fired shots into a vehicle parked there.
"It's alleged he pointed a gun at two individuals," Parks says.
Lapeer County Sheriff deputies investigated the complaint and a warrant for the charges was issued against Miller.
Around 2 p.m. that afternoon, police learned that Miller was in the Attica area making phone calls to different individuals, Parks says.
"Those people were relaying information (to authorities), they knew he was in the area and his demeanor was apparently threatening," Parks says. "In some of the phone calls he was told police were looking for him and he was despondent. Reports were that he was suicidal and armed, and that he said he 'wasn't going to go to jail.'"
Deputies spotted Miller in his vehicle at Lake Pleasant and Peppermill roads and began pursuit on a private drive around Elk Lake.
Parks says Miller drove his vehicle onto the lake, crossed the lake and stopped on the north shore. A few moments later, a gunshot was heard, Parks says.
|Local police and deputies discuss their strategy for locating and apprehending alleged gunman with members of Oakland County’s Special Response Team late Friday afternoon. photo by Tom Wearing.|
"Officers didn't know for sure exactly whether it was him firing at somebody or at himself," he says.
Because of the gunshot and Miller's reported threats, the Oakland County SRT and Lapeer City K-9 handler were called to assist.
Parks says deputies later investigated the scene and found footprints. They also determined the shot had been an accidental discharge of one of the weapons, he adds.
Residents were alerted of the situation by telephone, some asked to evacuate their homes. Concern was heightened when SRT members and other law enforcement personnel gathered at the command center they'd set up at Lapeer Community Church on Lake Pleasant Road, and other police vehicles were seen staged throughout the community.
Miller was able to evade capture, Parks says, because the wooded area around the lake is so large.
"It's a big area," he says. "You can put guys in cars on the roads but when you're coming through the woods all you have to do is look out and see a car," he says. "We just don't have enough cars to put them sight-by-sight. There will be gaps. We just don't have the manpower, nobody would, to close it up that fast in the area."
An Oakland County SRT helicopter was deployed to search the area, though it wouldn't be until around 7 p.m. that officials learned Miller had exited the truck.
"Instead of trying to follow the tracks of a guy that's making threats and has weapons and now a gun shot to put a (deputy) alone going after the guy on foot might be a bad choice," Parks says. "These were all quick decisions. Of course there's some Saturday night quarterbacking later, but who knows what could have happened."
As alarming as the fully armored SRT members may look to residents who are used to life in the quiet, rural township, they're called in for protection, Parks says.
"The whole object of what we did out there was to save lives, including (Miller's)," Parks says. "That's what they're for; to contain the threat and save lives.
"It was determined this guy (Miller) was a serious threat, there was a need to contain him so he doesn't hurt anybody else and to save his life. (The SRT) is brought in not to kill people, but to save lives."
This is the third time the Lapeer County Sheriff's Dept. has asked Oakland County Sheriff's SRT members to assist at a scene, Parks says. Two of those had a successful outcome—no one was killed. In the last incident in Jan. 2007, a Goodland Twp. man took his own life.
The Oakland County SRT is funded by drug forfeiture money, Parks says, and offers their assistance at no charge to Lapeer County as part of a mutual aid agreement between departments.
"We have a great working relationship with them," Parks says. "They're very successful and we appreciate their services."
Miller will appear on Friday in District Court before Judge Laura Barnard for preliminary examinations on the charges, which also include a drug charge relating to a November 11 incident.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.