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September 25, 2002

'Standoff' suspect surrenders

- Police speculate John Joseph Shulick vacated his home while officers were attending to sheriff
By KEITH MATHENY
Record-Eagle staff writer

      BOYNE FALLS - Only a few hours after discovering that an armed suspect had fled a home where he was believed to be holed up, police Tuesday afternoon arrested the man wanted for a Monday assault on Charlevoix County Sheriff George T. Lasater.
      John Joseph Shulick, 44, surrendered to police at an undisclosed location in the vicinity of his home at Korthase and Rogers roads.
      More than 60 police officers from throughout the Lower Peninsula had surrounded Shulick's house and had been engaged in what they thought was a standoff. They thought Shulick was inside and armed with guns.
      "I couldn't ask for a better ending," said undersheriff Don Schneider, shortly after Shulick's surrender.
      "It's been a long 35 hours. And now the public can relax with the knowledge that this ordeal has come, thankfully, to a safe end," he said.
      Police said Shulick struck Lasater in the face with the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun Monday morning as Lasater, Schneider and two deputies attempted to serve an eviction notice on Shulick.
      Lasater was temporarily knocked unconscious, and suffered significant injury to his mouth and teeth, police said.
      After his capture Tuesday Shulick was taken to the Charlevoix County Jail. He is expected to appear in Charlevoix District Court as early as today for a bond hearing and possible arraignment on felony charges.
      Charlevoix County Prosecutor Mary Beth Kur said she authorized charges against Shulick of felonious assault and resisting and obstructing an officer causing injury requiring medical treatment, each punishable by up to four years in prison.
      An additional count for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony would add two years' imprisonment to any other sentence.
      Schneider said Shulick had been in a lengthy discussion with another area resident who tried to convince him to turn himself over to police. The resident requested anonymity.
      At about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Shulick spoke on the telephone with Michigan State Police Det./Sgt. Gwen White, and arranged a surrender which took place shortly thereafter, Schneider said.
      Police from three multi-county Emergency Response Teams from throughout the Lower Peninsula had surrounded the house since the assault on Lasater Monday morning, believing Shulick remained inside.
      The assault occurred on a stairway in Shulick's home, where police had gone with an eviction notices stemming from a divorce proceeding.
      As Lasater collapsed, Schneider said, Shulick ran up the stairs. What police didn't know at the time was that the home had a second stairway on the opposite side of the second floor.
      Schneider speculated Tuesday that Shulick scrambled down the other stairway and out of the home in the moments that Schneider and other deputies were attending to Lasater.
      Police attempted to make contact with Shulick at the home throughout the day, and at about 10 p.m. Monday shot tear gas into the home, also with no response.
      It wasn't until about 4 p.m. Tuesday that an emergency response team made its way into the home and determined that Shulick wasn't inside, Schneider said.
      "We were still fairly confident Mr. Shulick was in the residence, and that is why we proceeded the way we did," he said.
      Police discovered two handguns inside the house, but not the shotgun they say Shulick used to assault Lasater, Schneider said.
      Police agencies across the state were warned Tuesday to be on the lookout for Shulick and were also told that he was believed to be "armed and dangerous," Schneider said.
      The shotgun allegedly used in the assault on Lasater was recovered when Shulick surrendered, Schneider said.
      Korthase and Rogers roads were closed to traffic and residents throughout the incident. Neighborhood residents were allowed to return to their homes after nearly a day-and-a-half late Tuesday afternoon.
      Some had criticism for how police handled the situation.
      "I really don't know why they waited so long to act, when they knew there were no hostages inside," said Elaine Spence, who lives with her family in the house next door to the Shulick residence, but said she did not know him.
      Spence, her husband and two children were forced to spend Monday night at her mother-in-law's in East Jordan.
      Larry Failing, another Korthase Road resident, questioned why police did not provide information to displaced residents via the media or directly.
      "You couldn't talk to anybody," he said. "You couldn't get anybody to tell you anything."
      Schneider apologized to area residents.
      "We know it was a terrible inconvenience to those who couldn't get to pets, fresh clothes or their own beds," he said. "But it was so important to secure a perimeter for everyone's safety."
      Schneider said he had phoned reports in to Lasater either directly or through the sheriff's wife throughout the day, and that Lasater made an appearance at the scene earlier Tuesday.
      "He is very, very uncomfortable, obviously, as a result of his injuries," Schneider said. "But you can't keep that old dog away from the scene."
      Keith Matheny is the reporter for Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet counties. He can be reached at (231) 536-0345, or at tcre_keith@yahoo.com
     
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