Local News Archives

Prosecutors Release Details About Charges Against Courthouse Shooter

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office has released more details about the charges that had been faced by courthouse shooter Larry Gordon. It says the 44-year-old Coloma man was arrested on April 20 when police went to his home on Tannery Road to pick him up for a misdemeanor domestic violence warrant. Upon arrival, officers noticed a light on in a shed on the property and found Gordon inside. He barricaded himself in, and then escaped through a back entrance. Gordon was picked up not long after in a different area of the neighborhood, but once police got into the shed, they learned he’d been holding a 17-year-old girl there for about two weeks against her will. Prosecutors say he’d been giving her meth in exchange for sex, and also forced sex on her. Gordon was charged with a variety of offenses which included first degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, production of child sexually abusive material, and strangulation. He’d been looking at life in prison. Gordon shot and killed two Berrien County court security officers on Monday after grabbing the gun of a sheriff’s deputy. He was later shot and killed by police.... [Read Full Story]

State Police Doing Aerial Search For Marijuana Operations

If you noticed a Michigan State Police helicopter circling around St. Joseph Township today, there’s no need for concern. Michigan State Police tell us the helicopter was doing a free flying search for illegal marijuana growth operations as part of the Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program. Every summer, MSP teams up with other agencies to do air surveillance for marijuana all over the state. Today happens to be Berrien County’s day for fly overs. State police tell us they had no particular information there was marijuana growing in the areas covered. They were just looking as part of a routine program.... [Read Full Story]

Prayer Vigil Honors Courthouse Victims

Michigan State Police Trooper Steve Barker says he is thankful to have worked with both Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro in his law enforcement career, which began 18 years ago with the Benton Township Police Department. Barker spoke at a candlelight vigil in downtown St. Joseph last night to remember the two court bailiffs who were killed on Monday.... [Read Full Story]

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service. It had been shut down July 6 due to a rupture in a steam expansion joint bellows which damaged the Turbine Building exterior wall. Indiana Michigan Power says the failure looks to have been caused by vibration-induced metal fatigue. Repairs made include improvements to the expansion joint to ensure it’s reliable until taken off line this fall for a refueling outage. At that point, more comprehensive design change improvements will be made. Unit 2 went back into service at 6 p.m. Tuesday.... [Read Full Story]

Funeral Arrangements Announced For Joe Zangaro

Southwest Michigan will say goodbye to Joe Zangaro on Friday. The head of courthouse security for Berrien County was among two court officers shot and killed Monday in an attempt by an inmate to escape custody. Visitation will be Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel on Niles Road in St. Joseph, followed by a Celebration of Life Service Friday at 1 p.m .at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Harbor. No funeral arrangements have been announced yet for Ron Kienzle, who was also shot and killed on Monday at the courthouse in St. Joseph.... [Read Full Story]

Company Hired To Assess Straits Of Mackinac Pipeline Risks

The state of Michigan has tapped two companies to analyze the financial risk of an oil pipeline rupture in the Straits of Mackinac and evaluate any alternatives to the pipeline. Enbridge Energy, based in Calgary, Alberta, has agreed to pay $3.5 million but will not oversee the studies. Enbridge owns the twin oil pipelines in the area where lakes Huron and Michigan converge. Det Norske Veritas will determine how much money would be needed to clean up an oil spill. Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems will study alternatives to Line 5. The announcement was made Tuesday. Line 5 carries nearly 23 million gallons of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily. It runs across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before entering the Straits of Mackinac. It ends in Sarnia, Ontario.... [Read Full Story]

Adopt A Highway Cleanup Week Starts Saturday

This weekend will bring the start of the next Adopt a Highway cleanup week in Michigan. Dan Weingarten, with the Michigan Department of Transportation, says more than 3,000 groups of all stripes from around the state will take to roads to pick up trash. He says their efforts make a big difference each year.... [Read Full Story]

Unity Walk Planned For Sunday

A unity walk is coming up this weekend. The event is planned by the Mosaic CCDA in response to recent violent events in the news around the country, including Monday’s Berrien County Courthouse shootings. Organizer Jameel McGee says they want everyone to get together and talk with police and other groups about maintaining trust in the community.... [Read Full Story]

Arraignments Held Tuesday For Some Arrested In South Haven Beach Disturbance

Court cases stemming from the Fourth of July weekend melee at South Haven’s North Beach have started to get processed. Van Buren County court officials say about ten people arrested during the disturbance were arraigned Tuesday, with charges that included disturbing the peace, resisting police, and assault. Police say a total of about 50 arrests were made on July 3 when the crowd at North Beach got rowdy. The beach was also evacuated. Additionally, large number of citations were issued for having alcohol on the beach. City officials say they’re reviewing how to to handle next year’s Light Up the Lake fireworks show, and also whether to hold it all.... [Read Full Story]

Courthouse Shooter’s Record Goes Back To 1992

The Berrien County Jail inmate who police say shot and killed two court officers on Monday had been facing a variety of criminal charges. Larry Darnell Gordon had been charged with criminal sexual conduct, first degree, and a host of other offenses that included assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence. He was arrested in April over an incident that allegedly occurred in February. Police also say he had a criminal record going back to 1992 which included convictions for crimes including unarmed robbery, fleeing a police officer, third degree, and burglary. Gordon was fatally shot by a Berrien County sheriff’s deputy after he shot and killed two court security officers Monday. He also shot a sheriff’s deputy who is recovering and a woman identified as Kenya Ellis, who is also recovering.... [Read Full Story]

Security At Berrien County Courthouse To Be Reviewed

Security procedures at the Berrien County Courthouse will be reviewed following Monday’s fatal shootings. Berrien County Chief Judge Gary Bruce says a report will be done, and all of the right questions will be asked in the coming weeks. Speaking to WSJM Tuesday, he said questions about handcuffing practices and other security-related matters at the courthouse will be addressed soon... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Courthouse To Remain Closed To Public Wednesday

The Berrien County Courthouses in both St. Joseph and Niles will remain closed to the public Wednesday. The closure is in response to Monday’s shooting incident. The Berrien County Administrator’s office says court staff should still report for work, and there will be grief counselors on hand for them. It’s not saying when the courthouse will be reopened to the public, and advises everyone to monitor news media for further information. Meanwhile, the Berrien County Health Department at the Niles location will be open Wednesday.... [Read Full Story]

Mattawan Man Arrested Following Suspicious Situation

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says a Mattawan man is facing charges after police say he was caught intoxicated with a shotgun Tuesday. It happened around midnight after deputies were called to a home in the 27,000 block of County Road 364 on a report of a possible prowler. Soon after arriving, they heard someone yelling, and found the 19-year-old suspect in a yard. He had a 12-guage shotgun, and police say he was drunk. The man tried to run, but was caught after a short time. He’s now charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, minor in possession, and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. His name has not yet been released.... [Read Full Story]

[VIDEO] Fallen Bailiffs Honored In Walk to Law Enforcement Memorial

Citizens of Berrien County are honoring the fallen law enforcement officials of Monday’s shooting at the courthouse.
Hundreds braved the heat Tuesday to pay tribute to Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Kienzle, the Berrien County Court Bailiffs who were killed during the shooting incident Monday afternoon. The crowd gathered in the courthouse parking lot, and proceeded to walk to the Law Enforcement Memorial on Lake Boulevard, where flowers were placed on the memorial wall and local leaders offered words of encouragement.... [Read Full Story]

Sheriff: Gordon Was Handcuffed Before Shootings

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey now says a jail inmate’s hands were cuffed in front when he wrested a gun from a deputy and killed two bailiffs at the courthouse in St. Joseph. Bailey says he had wrong information Monday when he said the inmate, Larry Darnell Gordon of Coloma, was not handcuffed. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Bailey says Gordon got into a fight with a deputy while being escorted to a courtroom from a holding cell. Two bailiffs were killed and two people were injured before Gordon was killed by other officers. The sheriff says an investigation will reveal more details about what happened. The deputy who was escorting Gordon is in a hospital with injuries that aren’t life-threatening.... [Read Full Story]

Names Of Victims In Courthouse Shooting Released

Two Berrien County court officers are dead after an inmate of the county jail grabbed one of their guns on Monday afternoon. Sheriff Paul Bailey identified the victims as 61-year-old Joseph Zangaro and 63-year-old Ronald Kienzle. Police say Zangaro was the supervisor of court security and had worked for the court since 2004. He was a retired Michigan State Police Bridgman post commander. Kienzle had worked for the trial court since 2005, and was a retired Benton Township police sergeant. Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy James Atterberry was also shot, and is recovering at Lakeland Hospital, along with a woman whose name hasn’t been released. The inmate has been identified as 45-year-old Larry Darnell Gordon, of Coloma. Bailey says Gordon was able to get an officer’s gun during a struggle.... [Read Full Story]

Reaction To Courthouse Shootings Coming in From Across The Nation

Support for the victims of Monday’s courthouse shootings in St. Joseph is pouring in from all over the country. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted, “Thoughts and prayers with the victims, and their families – along with everyone at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.” Closer to home, Congressman Fred Upton writes, “We have lost two very able public servants and we all grieve for them and their families.” Similar sentiments were expressed by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who wrote he’s “deeply saddened by the tragic shootings at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph.” State Senator John Proos commended the professionalism of local law enforcement in responding, and state Representative Al Pscholka said, “We are in a very difficult time across America right now, and this is hitting very close to home.”... [Read Full Story]