Benton Harbor man killed in police shootout

Friends and family of Marcus Meridy console each other after he died Wednesday in a shootout with police in a Benton Township motel. Police say he fired first during the standoff. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Friends and family of Marcus Meridy console each other after he died Wednesday in a shootout with police in a Benton Township motel. Police say he fired first during the standoff. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Police shot and killed an armed man holed up in a motel room with his abducted wife Wednesday morning.

Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Dawson said Marcus Meridy had abducted his 38-year-old wife at 6:12 a.m. from her work at The Willows on Hollywood Road – an assisted living facility in Royalton Township.

The standoff ended at 9:47 a.m. in a shootout between Meridy, 44, and police at the American Inn near the Pilot Travel Center and Wendy’s along Napier Avenue, just off of Exit 30 of I-94.

“The suspect was holding his wife hostage,” Dawson said. “There was some kind of domestic situation between the suspect and his wife. He shot at our officers and they returned fire.”

Dawson said police had slid a cell phone under the door and troopers had negotiated with Meridy on the phone for more than a half hour when he fired his weapon from inside the hotel room. Officers entered the room and the suspect fired at police.

When tactical officers gained entry, an officer was shot at in the process but suffered no injuries. The bullet was stopped just above the officer’s shoulder and was lodged in his vest behind his collar.

“We weren’t sure if he was firing at her (his wife) or not,” Dawson said. “It was at that point our emergency support team went into the building. The suspect fired at the officers and police returned fire.”

Meridy has a criminal record that dates to 1992, and was discharged from the Michigan Department of Corrections in 2013. His prior convictions include fleeing police, drug offenses, criminal sexual conduct and assault.

While Meridy was confirmed dead on scene, Dawson said the suspect’s wife, Kenyatta Wright, suffered a gunshot wound and was beaten by Meridy.

She was taken by Medic 1 to Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph, for treatment.

Police officers walk over to the side entrance of the American Inn on Napier Avenue in Benton Township Wednesday morning after police shot and killed a man they say abducted his wife. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Police officers walk over to the side entrance of the American Inn on Napier Avenue in Benton Township Wednesday morning after police shot and killed a man they say abducted his wife. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Meridy and Wright are from the Benton Harbor area. While it was originally reported they were divorced, Dawson said the family confirmed they were married, though it was an “estranged marriage.”

Illinois resident Brittany Boatwright was staying on the first floor of the American Inn when the standoff began.

Boatwright said she was visiting family when she and others heard a knock at the door.

“At about 9 o’clock, cops came pounding on our door, came in and asked if we were all right,” Boatwright said. “They told us there has been a disturbance in the hotel and to stay put in our room. About an hour later, we started hearing gun shots. Before then, we heard people saying, ‘we know you don’t want to hurt her, just let her go.'”

Boatwright said she and her family continued to listen until they heard about five or six gun shots.

“I had no idea what was going on,” Boatwright said. “We were looking out the windows and saw a bunch of cops and ambulances and a SWAT team. We were freaking out.”

Police had received a 911 call from The Willows shortly after the abduction. Dawson said the suspect’s vehicle that was used to abduct Wright was found in the Benton Township hotel parking lot. The two were in a room on the second floor of the hotel facing I-94.

After the call first came in, Dawson said state police, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office and all local police were out searching for the subject.

“It took a while to figure out where they had gone,” Dawson said. “His other vehicle was found a short ways away from Willows on Maiden Lane. Apparently he used two vehicles.”

There are two joint investigations ongoing – the state police Niles post is investigating the abduction, and the state police’s Fifth District headquarters in Paw Paw is investigating the shooting.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 19, 2015)

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