Howard City resident Matthew Speese’s shooting death ruled self defense

A Michigan State Police trooper blockades the driveway to Matthew Speese's home on June 1 while police investigate the shooting that left Speese dead.

HOWARD CITY — The shooting death of Howard City resident Matthew Speese has been ruled as self defense, according to a report released by Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea S. Krause.

The report, released on Friday, details the circumstances that brought police to Speese’s Gates Road residence on June 1, when multiple agencies responded to a call for a well-being check on a reportedly suicidal Speese.

Around 5:45 p.m. that day, Montcalm County Central Dispatch received a call from the Veterans Crisis Line indicating that Speese, 47, told their operators he was going to kill himself and he intended to shoot any police officers who responded to his home.

It was after an almost two-hour standoff that Speese began to charge down his driveway toward officers, at one point attempting to hide behind a tree to shoot at them with his long gun. It was when Speese dropped his long gun and reached into his waistband to grab another weapon that Montcalm County Sheriff’s Deputy Clayton Thomas fire at Speese “in fear for his life,” the report states.

Speese continued to reach for his waistband, so Thomas fired two additional rounds, causing Speese to fall to the ground. Howard City Police Chief Steve DeWitt yelled that Speese had a handgun as well, then he fired two shots at Speese as Speese began to stand up and point his long gun at officers.

An ambulance staged nearby was called to transport Speese to Spectrum Health Butterworth, where he was later pronounced dead. An autopsy indicated Speese died as the result of a gunshot wound to the left side of his head.

The weapon Speese was reaching for ended up being a black and silver folding knife. The long gun Speese was carrying was a black .22 caliber/.410 gauge over/under rifle/shotgun. In the butt of the gun, officers found additional live rounds of .22 caliber bullets and .410 slugs.

Speese served for more than eight years in the Marines. His family has said he suffered from suicidal tendencies after returning from the Gulf War, most notably when he told them during a camping trip in Mecosta County last year that he considered “killing himself and going out by suicide by cop,” the report indicates.

For more on this story, continue to check bigrapidsnews.com and read Monday’s edition of the Pioneer.

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Posted by Whitney Gronski-Buffa

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