Kozal: ‘We will remain vigilant’

Police address recent home invasions, provide updates

Tim Kozal, Manistee public safety director, spoke to a full crowd at the Manistee Senior Center at 457 River St., on Wednesday. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

Tim Kozal, Manistee public safety director, spoke to a full crowd at the Manistee Senior Center at 457 River St., on Wednesday. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE  — With the recent reports of home invasions coming to light in Manistee County, police are now working to alleviate concerns of the citizens and enact preventative measures.

Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan and Tim Kozal, Manistee public safety director, made an appearance at the Manistee Senior Center on Wednesday morning, addressing the recent home invasions in both the city and county.

“It’s causing a little bit of anxiety in our city,” said O’Hagan. “We are always here to share tips on what we can do to help you stay safe.”

Currently, the Manistee City Police department is heading two separate home invasion investigations.

Around 12:18 a.m. on Monday, city police responded to call about an armed home invasion, where the subject had a handgun and demanded cash from a resident on the 400 block of Second Street in Manistee.

A 75 year old woman said a masked man forced entry into the house. The subject was able to secure cash from the victim; however, the victim was not injured.

Police say the suspect was described as being short, measuring between 5-foot and 5-foot, 3-inches tall, and was wearing dark colored clothing. No further description was provided.

As the investigation continues, Kozal said officers may have found a possible suspect in the case, but evidence is currently being processed.

“We have a possible suspect,” he said. “It could take months, we still have to do more DNA testing with the lab, review all of the evidence, complete more interviews and wait for the lab reports to come back. We have it narrowed down, but we still have more work to do.”

Many of the residents in attendance on Monday asked questions about the nature of the incident. Kozal said the home invasion could have been an “isolated incident.”

“I don’t believe she was sought out and targeted. I believe, and it’s just a theory, that some other things took place and this might just be an innocent person that was targeted,” said Kozal. “He did not come up to the door and she did not answer the door, he got into the house and just happened to run into her.”

An interdepartmental investigation was also reported last week in the same area. Kozal said police responded to a home invasion on Jan. 24, at a residence on the 440 block of Third Street.

A 35 year old Manistee resident is currently in custody on a parole violation. Kozal said the subject was said to be involved with two additional home invasions reported as far back as September.

“We have someone in custody, and we hope to have warrants for that subject here in the next one or two days,” he said. “It was a crime of opportunity. He walked and tried door handles, he did not try to force and break into a window.”

Kozal said city police are dedicated to closing both cases, and are using preventive measures to keep the community safe. He also said it is paramount the public brings forward any possible information that could be linked to a case.

“We are working on it hard, and we will keep working on it,” Kozal said. “We stepped up our patrols, and we are trying to get out more on foot, looking for anything and everything.”

O’Hagan shared information on a home invasion that happened over a week ago in Filer Township, and announced reports of a recent breaking and entering attempt in Copemish.

On Tuesday, a Copemish resident reported that someone attempted to break into their home between the hours of 2-6 p.m. The deputies have a person of interest, but no solid evidence at this point.

“There was minimal damage, and they didn’t get into (the residence). There were some pry marks,” O’Hagan said.

O’Hagan stressed the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the police, keeping lights on at night in a residence and ensuring to lock up everything — whether it’s in a trusted location or not.

“Be vigilant, be alert and keep things locked up all of the time. Don’t just say ‘well it’s just Manistee,'” he said. “Well, it is Manistee, but things like this can happen. When they happen, they happen in groups.”

With two investigations underway in the city, Kozal said the department is working to be transparent, and provide any available details with the public to ensure safety of the citizens.

“It’s our job to reduce the anxiety of the citizens in Manistee County,” he said. “That’s what we are here to do today, to share a little information. Keep your eyes open. We will remain vigilant, and we hope everyone else will also remain vigilant.”



Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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