UPDATE: Van Buren Co. break-ins could be tied to crime spree
Two big crimes over the last few weeks appear to be connected after a raid at a Mishawaka home ties it all together.
Four people are in jail in connection to the burglary of Dutchman Hunting Supplies on Feb. 10. Police haven't said how many guns were stolen, but one of the owners says 14 handguns were taken.
Police say Michael Barber, 21, was seen inside Dutchman Hunting Supplies the day before the burglary. He was seen on surveillance in all four corners of the store, bought a soda and left. Shortly after he was there, employees noticed a motion sensor was missing. The store was broken into less than 24 hours later. An employee later identified Barber as the person they saw inside the store.
Some 10 days later, there were four separate break-ins in Van Buren County. No one has been arrested but police say a motorcycle was stolen and it popped up the next day.
Barber was running away from a Michigan State Trooper on the stolen motorcycle. He eventually crashed the bike and attacked the trooper with his brother, Travis Wise. They both face numerous charges related to the incident. (
However, the story doesn't end there. In the early morning hours Saturday, a routine traffic stop turned into much more. Anthony Chipps, 23, was pulled over after his license plate turned up as stolen. During the stop, police found a handgun in the car and another one in the purse of one of the passengers. Stephanie Smolka, 22, and Chipps were arrested and both guns were traced back to Dutchman Hunting Supplies.
Smolka was interviewed by the ATF and she told them they got the guns from Barber. Now, they were trying to sell the guns to raise enough money to make bond for him now that he was locked up in Berrien County.
Chipps and Smolka both face a charge of carrying a handgun without a license. Chipps had an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance after an officer found Xanax on him during the stop.
Smolka took police to where she got the guns. A home in the 300 block of N. Walnut. She says she saw the guns, drugs and counterfeit money in the home. Police raided the home late Saturday night.
During the raid, a man drove up and asked what was going on because it was his house. Rodney Ross, 25, had a gun on him that was traced back to Dutchman. He faces one charge of carrying a handgun without a license and theft of a firearm.
Barber does not have any charges filed against him yet for the Dutchman burglary. However, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's office says this is an ongoing investigation, so more charges could come down the line.
The LaGrange County Sheriff says a number of guns from the Dutchman burglary are still missing but no charges have been filed. However, they say some charges could come down the line as soon as Thursday.