Posted Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 — 1:30 PM
By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub
A 76-year-old Huron Township man is dead Wednesday after firefighters and police initially responded to a structure fire in the 21000 block of Huron River Drive to find a house barricaded from within and fire accelerant spread throughout the inside.
At 5:21 p.m., Huron Township Dispatch Operations Center received a 911 call from a neighbor reporting a structure fire at the location.
The neighbor told 911 that they could see smoke coming from inside the house.
Huron Township Fire Department and police responded to the scene within four minutes and firefighters were able to extinguish multiple fires in the house and garage areas.
After entering the house, emergency responders observed a large amount of fresh fire accelerant spread throughout the inside, as well as several weapons and doors to the house barricade from within.
“Once inside the residence and after observing several indicators of obstacles that could potentially be dangerous to our staff, a decision was made to have our first responders take tactical positions. This decision was made not only to ensure their safety, but also the safety of nearby neighbors. Our top priority was to make sure everyone remained safe,” said Everette Robbins, Huron Township director of public safety.
Officers then setup a perimeter around the house and neighbors were asked to shelter in place.
Huron River Drive was closed between King and West Roads, and multiple Huron Township police and fire staff were contacted while off duty and responded to the scene to assist.
DTE was also contacted and shut down service in the immediate area.
“The teamwork that occurred throughout this emergency situation was incredible. Our Dispatch Staff, Firefighters and Police Officers unselfishly responded to the scene while they were off duty. All hands were on deck and both of our public safety departments were all in to ensure the safety of our residents,” Robbins said.
Because of the accelerants spread throughout the house and the possibility of an armed barricaded person inside, the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad and SWAT team were contacted and assisted during the incident.
For several hours, the bomb squad robots examined the house in an attempt to identify any potential threats inside.
“I am very appreciative for the assistance of the Michigan State Police. They responded with two robots to assist us with assessing the threat level inside the residence. The robots were beneficial to limit the human interaction with potential threats and ensure that our first responders make it home safely. The work of these robots ultimately gave us the confidence that we could enter the home safely and resolve this incident,” Robbins said.
At about 12:30 a.m., Huron Township Police and MSP SWAT made entry into the house in an attempt to locate the resident.
Shortly after, he was found dead from what police say initially appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Video: Huron Township Police and Michigan State Police SWAT make entry into house
“Our thoughts and prayers go out this this man’s family. I am not sure we will ever know the deceased’s individual’s true intentions or reasoning for this incident,” Robbins said.
The Detective Bureau, Evidence Tech Team, and Huron Township Arson Investigator then conducted an investigation at the scene.
Multiple weapons and fire accelerants were located inside the house.
“It initially appears that the man set the fires himself,” Robbins said.
The investigation is ongoing and the man is not being identified at this time pending the notification of out of town family members.
His body was turned over to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
“This incident could have had a much different outcome. We are very fortunate to have such dedicated and well-trained Dispatch, Fire and Police Departments. At the end of the day, we only had a couple officers sustain minor injuries. Again, I am proud of both the teamwork and leadership that I witnessed. This teamwork includes the residents who were displaced from their homes. We appreciated the patience showed by the neighbors affected by this incident and the confidence the community had in us to bring this to a safe conclusion,” said Robbins.