A man police believed to be the suspect in Sunday's arson and theft at a Niles Walmart was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday night, after leading police on a massive chase.
An autopsy conducted Wednesday afternoon indicated James Erik Turns, 31, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
It all started around 8:30 p.m., when Berrien County police tried to contact Turns at his home on Sharpstone Ct. in Granger. St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett says Turns fled the scene.
Berrien County police called on St. Joseph County to assist in the pursuit. They setup a perimeter to try and trap the suspect.
At some point, Corbett says the suspect tried to carjack a woman at gunpoint. But, he was unsuccessful and the woman wasn't hurt. Investigators are looking into this incident to determine the extent of Turns' contact with any person while being pursued by police.
The man then made his way to the 51000 block of New Colony Ct. in Granger's Bridlewood subdivision, where he tried to enter a home.
"Inside this house at the time of this incident were three young children, a man and his wife," Corbett said. "The gentleman who lives there heard a rattle at his door and, shortly thereafter, heard a gunshot wound and observed the suspect lying on the ground."
Police say it's a miracle no one was hurt during the dangerous pursuit.
"This guy was armed and if he would have got inside this house, I'm very confident we'd have had a SWAT situation and hostages," Corbett said.
Meanwhile, neighbors gathered outside as the lights from police cars caught their attention.
Aaron Bell lives across the street from the house Turns attempted to enter. He was sitting in his bedroom, saw the flashing lights and peered out his window.
"It was kind of shocking, on a quiet night," said Bell. He saw squad cars drive past his home and then quickly return and settle in between the two houses across the street.
Bell explained that neighbors texted and called one another to try to piece together what happened. Several houses down, Bell said his neighbor saw Turns with a woman at gun point by her car. That neighbor approached Turns but backed away when Turns flashed a gun at him.
Police quickly and quietly ran from their cars, Bell said the officers went around the back of the home but quickly returned. Their body language, Bell said, indicated it was over.