Kalamazoo County deputy killed, suspect dead after chase, shootings

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CLIMAX TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputy and a suspect have died after a police chase and shootings.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office says it started Saturday evening when deputies spotted the man, who had been involved in a chase earlier in the day with a different agency, at a gas station on 35th Street just outside of Galesburg.

An employee at Johnny’s Markets and Shell gas station said he noticed a customer come into the store late Saturday night acting odd.

“He just kept darting around,” Kyle Campbell said. “Every little thing that happened in the store, he was just jumpy.”

Later, Campbell was ordering food when suddenly, a Kalamazoo County deputy rushed in.

“He tells everybody to ‘Get down.’ There’s a gun and somebody’s pointing it right at us,” Campbell said. “So, we all just jumped down … I was actually very scared. I thought we were robbed over at the gas station.”

The suspect, the sheriff’s office said, pointed a gun at the deputies and sped off.

For Campbell, he’s grateful for their quick response and how lucky his situation turned out.

“If they weren’t here and they didn’t handle it the way they did, it would’ve been worse than what it was,” Campbell said.

Deputies gave chase, following the man for more than 2 miles. As the chase continued, the man started shooting at deputies from his car, the sheriff’s office said. One of the deputies, Deputy Ryan Proxmire, was shot, causing his cruiser to crash in the area of MN Avenue and 38th Street in Charleston Township, south of Galesburg.

A “secondary scene” at MN Avenue and 38th Street connected to a shooting involving a Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputy. (Aug 15, 2021)

Proxmire was soon found in his cruiser by a passerby, who called 911. He was rushed to the hospital in what authorities described as “extremely critical condition.”

The other deputies kept chasing the suspect for about another 4.5 miles. He lost control of his car and drove into a field off 44th Street south of E Q Avenue in Climax Township, where it got stuck. There, authorities say, he got out of the car and started firing again. Deputies shot back.

A scene on 44th Street south of E Q Avenue in Climax Township connected to a shooting involving a Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputy. (Aug 15, 2021)

The suspect died at the scene. His name has not been released.

Sunday afternoon, Proxmire died of his injuries at the hospital.

He’s the second member of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office to die in the line of duty — the first happened when Sheriff Benjamin Franklin Orcutt was killed by gunfire over 150 years ago in December 1867.

The sheriff’s office said Proxmire was a patrol officer, field training officer, Taser instructor and defensive tactics instructor and worked at the jail.

An undated courtesy photo of Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Proxmire.

“Deputy Proxmire, his family, and his brothers and sisters in law enforcement need your thoughts and prayers as they deal with this tragic situation,” the sheriff’s office said Sunday afternoon.

Law enforcement officers from several agencies gathered at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo after Proxmire was taken there, with the presence growing throughout the day.

Several law enforcement agencies drive near Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where a sheriff’s deputy died after a shooting and chase. (Aug. 15, 2021)

The Kalamazoo community and beyond came together Sunday night during a vigil near the sheriff’s office.

“It’s a brotherhood. You combine police, fire, EMS, towing and the amazing residents of this county that have come out … this is a huge family. Like (Sheriff) Richard Fuller said … ‘We’re all together in this,’” Joey Bird, the vigil organizer, said.

Michigan State Police was called into investigate, which is standard procedure when a local agency’s officers are involved in a shooting.

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