U.P. sheriff praises deputies for actions during ‘suicide by cop’ case on remote island

The Ohio man was snowmobiling on Friday afternoon when the crash occurred in the Upper Peninsula.

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, MI – An Upper Peninsula sheriff is publicly commending his deputies for their actions during a difficult “suicide by cop” situation on Sugar Island.

In a lengthy note posted to Facebook on Monday, Chippewa County Sheriff Michael D. Bitnar said officers were able to use a Taser to subdue a heavily armed man who was threatening police, instead of fatally shooting him.

The ordeal began in the early morning hours on Oct. 5 when police responded to the remote island in the St. Marys River after receiving reports of a suicidal male.

Upon arrival, the male was seen holding a handgun to his side yelling and threatening the officers. Police say he walked back into his house and was seen with a long gun and eventually two handguns tucked in the waist of his pants.

“The officers did an outstanding job taking cover and attempting to talk the subject down,” Bitnar wrote. “The man completely disregarded all the police commands. The officers did everything they could by taking cover and kept backing up as the subject kept walking towards them.”

“The subject walked the officers all the way down his driveway and down the roadway. It was apparent that the subject wanted a confrontation with the officers, and it appeared he was hoping to complete suicide by cop.”

But officers didn’t shoot, instead deploying a Taser that allowed officers to take the man into custody without a single shot being fired.

“Not all situations allow the time to attempt this type of tactic, but in this instance, it worked perfectly,” Bitnar wrote. “This situation could have easily gone a different direction if not for the outstanding work by our deputy sheriff and the Special Agent from the USBP.”

“This is just one instance where a life and death decision was made in the line of duty. We make decisions like this way too many times, even here in the E.U.P. These officers did all they could to resolve the situation without lethal force. With that, I thank you.”

The suspect has not been identified. Bitnar did not say if he had been charged with any crimes.

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