By Ralph Echtinaw
Kudos for the capture of a gunman in Alma Monday goes not only to the Alma Police Department but also to four other police agencies that pitched in, including the St. Louis Police Department.
“As soon as the first call went out of ‘shots fired’ everybody immediately responded,” Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. told city council Tuesday. “Those are the kind of things we don’t need to have mutual aid requests put out for. It’s an automatic response. When I got there, there were five or six patrol cars already on top of it. We assisted with perimeter security; myself, Sgt. (Kristi) Forshee and Officer (Matt) Van Hall. Once the person was in custody officer Van Hall was assigned to a security detail. Sgt. Forshee and I were taking care of traffic control.”
The suspect was captured in short order; Ramereiz estimated four minutes from the time shots were fired near Alma City Hall. But the ensuing investigation encompassed a “horrendous nightmare of a crime scene.”
Every inch of pavement from city hall to Alma College (where the suspect was apprehended) had to be searched.
Ramereiz said some officers, including a police dog unit, walked up and down Superior Street in search of evidence. The state police aviation unit digitally mapped the crime scene with a drone from city hall to Alma college.
“There was a whole pile of people involved,” Ramereiz said. “It was almost like a beehive. Everybody had a role. I don’t want to say it went flawlessly but it went as well as it could have.”
Fortune favored law enforcement that day with several officers who assisted just happening to be nearby when the “shots fired” call went out. Ramereiz said a Great Lakes Central Railroad Police officer was among the first to respond. A state trooper was about to inspect the railroad crossing at Alma College. Another state trooper was on his way to an Alma Ford dealership for service. Two Gratiot County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars were just west of Alma College when the radio cracked with that chilling call. They all postponed their errands and pitched in.
In that respect, “it worked out perfectly,” Ramereiz said.
Even the St. Louis DPW got in on the action. Ramereiz asked them to bring road closure signs, as Alma didn’t have enough. So they dropped what they were doing and trailered the signs to Alma.
Ramereiz said that Alma Police Director Mark Williams “was extremely appreciative that we were able to be there as officers to assist and also have the other departments within the city be able to assist. The partnership was very much appreciated.”