Police say armed Ferndale man takes own life during standoff

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 5, 2019

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FERNDALE — A standoff between an armed Ferndale man and police ended the morning of June 5 when police found the suspect dead.

Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown said an autopsy performed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that 74-year-old Mason Campbell likely died by self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

According to a press release, Ferndale police were notified at approximately 7:43 p.m. June 4 of gunshots fired inside an apartment building located at 415 Withington St., near Planavon Street. Brown confirmed three gunshots were fired in the hallway on the second floor at a 64-year-old man who resided at the apartment building.

“It was the result of some ongoing conflict between two people, the victim and Mr. Campbell, over an amount of money, but we haven’t really been able to get a clear and concise picture of exactly what it was about,” Brown said.

Brown said that after shooting at the 64-year-old man, Campbell retreated toward his apartment unit.

“Prior to entering his apartment, he fired two more rounds into the door of one of his neighbors (a 64-year-old woman), who feels that that was an intentional act as well,” he said.

The release states that there were no injuries from the initial gunfire that alerted police to the Withington residence, which is owned by the Ferndale Housing Commission.

Officers arrived on the scene within a minute of the 911 call being made. After identifying a suspect, the apartment building was partially evacuated and locked down. Along with Ferndale police, officers from Pleasant Ridge, Madison Heights and Hazel Park responded to the incident.

Brown said the decision was made to also call in the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, which tried several different techniques to establish contact with Campbell, including turning on a loud siren, but nothing was successful.

“Somewhere around midnight, a decision was made to deploy a remote-controlled robot into the room to try and locate Mr. Campbell,” he said. “After a thorough search of that apartment … they finally located him laying on a bed.”

Because of the initial shooting incident, Brown said they didn’t want to send an officer to check on Campbell's status. A distraction device was deployed instead, described as “loud, fireless fireworks,” but Campbell didn’t flinch from the tactic.

“If there was any possibility that he could’ve still posed a threat to officers or anybody else, he would’ve reacted to that distraction device,” Brown said.

The SWAT team felt more comfortable doing a controlled entry after this, Brown said. Once they entered the room, it was on the bed where authorities reportedly found Campbell dead from a single gunshot wound shortly before 1 a.m.

“Our goal in a situation like this is the safety of everyone involved,” Ferndale Police Chief Vincent Palazzolo said in a prepared statement. “We had tactical, investigative, detective, and SWAT officers at the scene, a really skilled team, and we worked hard for a peaceful resolution. While we didn’t achieve that, we did see an outcome with no additional victims or injuries, and I’m proud of that.”

In a prepared statement, Ferndale City Manager Joseph Gacioch offered his condolences to the family of the individual involved.

“This is the kind of situation we hope never to have to experience, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the individual involved in tonight’s incident,” Gacioch said. “I worked closely with Chief Palazzolo and the Ferndale Police Department throughout the night and I can attest that officers did everything in their power to resolve the situation peacefully. We'll continue to investigate and will release additional information about the case as it becomes available.”

“We'll be working with (Ferndale Housing Commission Director) Heather (Van Poucker) and her staff to coordinate and offer crisis counseling to any of her residents in need,” he said.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at (800) 273-8255.

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