West BloomfieldSeptember 10, 2012
Officer-slaying suspect shot himself
By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
WEST BLOOMFIELD — A standoff between police and a suspect accused of killing officer Patrick O’Rourke ended late Monday afternoon, Sept. 10, after police found the man dead in his home.
According to a statement from West Bloomfield Police Lt. Tim Diamond, police tried to reach the suspect for hours at a home in the 4000 block of Forest Edge Drive but couldn’t do so successfully. So Michigan State Police deployed a robot inside the home to remotely give police a look at what was going on, the statement said.
Police said the robot revealed that the suspect, identified as Ricky Coley, was on a bed and not moving. The Oakland County Sheriff Office’s Special Response Team then reportedly saw the suspect’s body firsthand and confirmed his death. Police are continuing to investigate, Diamond said.
According to a representative from the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office, an autopsy revealed that the suspect’s death was a suicide caused by a gunshot wound in the mouth.
Inside her West Bloomfield Town Hall office that afternoon, Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste called the shooting the first police fatality in West Bloomfield’s history.
According to Ureste, township officials quickly arranged a candlelight vigil for 7:45 p.m. Sept. 11 to help with the community’s grieving process and to show support for the Police Department.
“A lot of employees even here in Town Hall did know him personally, so it’s been a tragic loss for the township,” Ureste said.
According to West Bloomfield police, O’Rourke was shot and killed while responding to a report of gunfire at a home in the 4000 block of Forest Edge in West Bloomfield. The call came in around 10 p.m. Sept. 9.
Officers said they announced that they were police when they entered the home, but they reportedly heard no response. Upon entering the second floor, police said, gunfire blasted through a closed bedroom door and wall. O’Rourke was reportedly shot, and paramedics took him to Pontiac’s McLaren Oakland hospital, where the officer was later pronounced dead.
Police said Coley, described as a middle-aged man, reportedly barricaded himself in the home and embarked on a standoff. The Oakland County Sheriff Department’s Special Response Team was at the scene, police said, and the standoff reportedly ended later that evening when the Coley was found dead in the home.
Ureste said that, as of 2 p.m., she had been in constant contact with police and fire officials as well as residents who live near the shooting scene. She called the situation “the longest standoff we’ve had in West Bloomfield.”
“It’s been a very frustrating right up till this moment — 14 hours later — that we’re basically still at the same juncture, where he’s barricaded in and shooting out,” Ureste said. “And the residents who were evacuated are frustrated that the situation hasn’t changed.”
According to Ureste, early reports defined Coley as ex-military and the owner of sophisticated equipment, including a rifle and ammunition. “The fire chief said it blows off 100 rounds of ammunition at a time,” she said.
Ureste described an elaborate array of measures that law enforcement personnel tried to end the standoff. She said the FBI was called in, and she said police tried to forcibly enter the premises with a Hummer, though she added that the tactic was apparently thwarted by the barricaded property. She said the fire chief said he used “firefighting measures” to stop the gunman, and the shooting reportedly stopped for some time afterward. But Ureste said she didn’t know what those firefighting measures were.
According to police, O’Rourke, 39, served West Bloomfield for 12 years and had won a Lifesaving Award, three Unit Commendations and three Certificates of Merit. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Besides Ureste, other community leaders spoke out about O’Rourke’s death.
Township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy called the killing a “senseless tragedy” and added that she was heartbroken for the officer’s family and the Police Department. Although she didn’t know O’Rourke personally, she said she has met him and she remembers him as respectful, polite and happy.
“He just exuded that integrity that you would expect from a police officer,” she said. “He was really a fine, fine individual.”
West Bloomfield Trustee Larry Brown said it’s a sad day for the township. “That’s what public safety is,” he said. “They put their lives on the line to protect this community. … Every time they get a call, they don’t know what they’re up against.”
Outside of West Bloomfield, Keego Harbor Mayor Pro Tem Sid Rubin said he met O’Rourke casually. Rubin said he expects his city’s police department to honor the fallen officer.
“We feel that he’s a member of the Keego Harbor family as well as West Bloomfield because our officers back each other up,” Rubin said. “We consider every officer in our surrounding area as a part of our family. Their loss is our loss, and we feel their pain.”
Township officials cancelled a Sept. 10 township board meeting and a Sept. 11 Planning Commission meeting. The 7:45 p.m. Sept. 11 candlelight vigil will be in front of the Police Department building, 4530 Walnut Lake Road, in West Bloomfield.
The community is invited, and township officials say donors will be able to contribute to a memorial fund for O’Rourke’s family.
Anyone with information on the incident can call the West Bloomfield Police Department at (248) 975-9200.
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