Drive-by shooting case bound over to 19th Circuit Court

MANISTEE — The case of Manistee resident and drive-by shooting suspect Austin Middleton was bound over from Manistee County’s 85th District Court to Manistee County’s 19th Circuit Court on five felony counts after a preliminary examination Wednesday.

No date has been set for Middleton’s appearance in 19th Circuit Court.

Middleton, 21, is accused of committing a drive-by shooting in April at a home on the 1700 block of Vine Street in the City of Manistee after a drug deal went wrong days prior. No one was hurt in the incident.

He is charged with the following felony counts: discharge of a firearm in or at a building; discharge of a weapon from a vehicle; carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm at the time of committing, or attempting to commit, a felony. A fifth charge of attempted home invasion, first degree, was added on May 6 after a police report was filed and the case was reviewed by the Manistee County prosecutor’s office.

MIDDLETON

MIDDLETON

After police searched for Middleton for about a half hour after the shooting, he was apprehended.

Michigan State Police Cadillac Post trooper Shelley Izzard detailed the search for Middleton during testimony heard by Manistee County assistant prosecutor Jonathan Hauswirth and defense attorney Frederick Stig-Nielsen.

Izzard testified that after observing a vehicle driving erratically and at a high rate of speed, the vehicle — a red Ford Ranger pickup truck with a silver stripe — pulled over south of Merkey Road on the 1200 block of 22nd Street in Filer Township.

Izzard noticed someone getting out of the truck and moving in front of it.

“He (Middleton) was hustling up the stairs; it was a second-story building he was going up to,” she said.

She said he, heavily intoxicated, was heading into an apartment occupied by Middleton’s aunt, Carol Bunker, and Kenneth Raymond on the 1200 block of 22nd Street.

“All of the lights were off — it was completely dark inside — and we identified ourselves as police officers and told him he needed to come out right now with his hands up,” said Izzard, who put Middleton in handcuffs.

Sgt. Thomas Bruce of the Manistee City Police testified that shell casings from the weapon were found directly in front of the home where the shooting occurred.

“When we got there to the front of the house, we started looking because I was told there was three rounds that had been fired that people had heard, but there were only two shell casings,” Bruce said. “We went up to the house and we found where one round had impacted on the siding of the house.”

He later went to the scene where the vehicle stopped, discovering 9mm ammunition and a bullet magazine inside of it.

“I saw a nine millimeter round that was laying loose in the back seat of the pickup truck,” Bruce said. “A loaded magazine was in between the two seats, the front passenger and the center console.”

A search warrant was obtained by police to search the vehicle and the Vine Street home.

Bruce read Middleton his Miranda Rights and spoke to him while he was seated in the dining room of the 22nd Street apartment and again at the city police department.

“He told me he was still upset, wanted to prove a point and that he had stuck his hand out the window (of his truck),” Bruce said. “He said he did this because the lady in the window had smiled at him and laughed and walked away. He told me he moved to where they were but that he still shot.”

Middleton told Bruce that with the pistol in his lap, he honked the horn and, seeing that the person in the window who laughed at him wouldn’t come out of the home, fired the shots immediately afterward.

Part-time city police officer Robert Medacco testified about a resident at the 100 block of Holly Court who said she heard gun shots in the area, responding to the call and later responded to the scene of the incident.

Bunker, Middleton’s uncle George Lapine, and Sirena Sparks, a resident at the home where the shooting occurred, also testified.

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Posted by Sean Bradley

Sean is the city and cops and courts reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the entertainment and Reasons to Celebrate pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3109 or sbradley@pioneergroup.com.

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