St. Clair Shores police have released more detailed information from the July 4-5 barricaded gunman situation.

St. Clair Shores police have released more detailed information from the July 4-5 barricaded gunman situation.

File photo by Kristyne E. Demske

Shores police release timeline of events in barricaded gunman situation

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 18, 2019


“There is no question that that gentleman thought he was firing at a person. We did not discharge a round into that neighborhood that night. Our guys and gals did an outstanding job. They learned from it. ... "

Mike Smith, St. Clair Shores City Manager

Two weeks after a man kept his neighbors and police at bay for more than 24 hours, ultimately shooting himself and, it is believed, the woman with him, St. Clair Shores police have released a timeline of events, as well as some background of the man, 58-year-old Tom Ihlendfeldt. 

Around 10 p.m. July 4, Channita Jackson called police to the 31000 block of St. Margaret Street after her neighbor, later identified as Ihlendfeldt, harassed children that were at her home and then threatened her and her house with a gun, ultimately shooting her house as well as a 62-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl. 

In a July 18 press release, St. Clair Shores Police Chief Todd Woodcox laid out the timeline of events, which included:

  • 10:10 p.m.: Jackson is on the phone with SERESA dispatchers and police are enroute to the scene when she informs them that her neighbor has fired shots at her house, shooting her window out.
  • 10:17 p.m.: Police have formed a perimeter around the suspect’s house, but are unsure if he is inside, and are working to help the two shooting victims when multiple shots are fired from Ihlendfeldt’s house. The two gunshot victims are taken from the house and lifted over the backyard fence to get to Emergency Medical Service members.
  • 10:55 p.m.: About 20 minutes after the St. Clair Shores Emergency Response Team is activated, police are able to find a phone number for a family member of Ihlendfeldt who said that Ihlendfeldt had just called to tell them goodbye. The family member gives police Ihlendfeldt’s phone number as well as the number of Carol Baur, the 60-year-old woman who lived with Ihlendfeldt, according to police.
  • 11:57 p.m.: After multiple attempts, Ihlendfeldt answers his phone and tells police that he is not coming out of his house. Ten minutes later, he answers his phone again and told police to come and get him. He confirmed that Baur was in the house but that she was “sleeping” and so could not come to the phone. Police continued to call and try to negotiate with Ihlendfeldt, but he refused to answer his phone after 12:27 a.m. July 5. 

Between midnight and 4 a.m. July 5, police send in a General Purpose Vehicle, which Ihlendfeldt fired shots at, but was able to be used to make entry into the home. They also deploy tear gas into the home. Just before 6 a.m., after some technical difficulties, a Michigan State Police robot enters the home and finds a shotgun on the floor of the living room and a handgun on the floor of the hallway. The robot finds the body of Baur, who is deceased, around 6:30 a.m.

After a few unsuccessful attempts, another Michigan State Police robot finds Ihlendfeldt in the basement around 11 a.m. July 5. As it is descending the stairs, the press release states that, “Ihlendfeldt fired numerous shots through the wall that struck the robot and temporarily disabled the camera … As the robot rounded the corner to continue its search, Ihlendfeldt fired numerous shots that struck the robot and completely disabled it.”

Police were able to see Ihlendfeldt had taken an offensive position in the basement before the robot was disabled.

Another robot camera got an image of Ihlendfeldt at 12:46 p.m. through the window of the basement, where he was seen armed with an assault rifle with a large capacity magazine and wearing a gas mask. He fired several rounds of ammunition up the stairs in the direction of the General Purpose Vehicle and several rounds struck his own vehicle parked in the driveway. 

After deploying smoke canisters and tear gas, police put a fire hose in the basement to attempt to flood it so Ihlendfeldt would come out. It ran for nearly two hours. 

At 2 a.m. July 6, Emergency Response Team members were able to get into the house and found Ihlendfeldt dead in the basement with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was behind a barricade wearing a gas mask. An assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine and a handgun were with him and there was another magazine in his pocket. Police found Baur on the kitchen floor with what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds.

Inside the house, according to St. Clair Shores Police, was a .22 caliber handgun, a .40 caliber handgun, a .44 caliber revolver, an assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle, along with 1,000-2,000 rounds of various ammunition. 

The press release states that it appears Ihlendfeldt obtained all three handguns legally from a firearms store four years ago, however, he never notified St. Clair Shores Police of the purchase to have the guns registered in his name. Failing to do so would have resulted in a civil infraction with a $250 fine. The store, according to police, is not obligated to notify law enforcement of the purchase; that is incumbent upon the buyer to do so. No permit is required to purchase or carry a rifle or shotgun. 

Ihlendfeldt was named as a suspect in an alleged sexual assault involving a minor in St. Clair Shores in 2006 and was charged with felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct. His March 2007 trial resulted in a hung jury. Before the second trial began in August, he pleaded no contest to felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to four years of reporting probation and required to register as a sex offender. He was resentenced in October 2008, resulting in the felony criminal sexual conduct charges being dismissed. He was instead sentenced to indecent exposure and exhibition of obscene material, which are misdemeanors that allowed Ihlendfeldt to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry. 

Because Ihlendfeldt was not a convicted felon, he was legally allowed to possess firearms, according to police.

The investigation is still continuing. 

City Manager Mike Smith said July 15 that, in the course of the debriefing of the incident that occurred July 12, police and other personnel discussed what was done right and what could have been done better during the course of the situation. 

The Michigan State Police robot that was shot by Ihlendfeldt was hit at chest level.

“There is no question that that gentleman thought he was firing at a person,” Smith said. “We did not discharge a round into that neighborhood that night. Our guys and gals did an outstanding job. They learned from it. There’s things we’re going to do differently, going forward.”

Woodcox thanked the police departments of Roseville, Eastpointe, Fraser and Sterling Heights, the Macomb County Sheriff’s office, Michigan State Police and the St. Clair Shores Fire Department for their assistance. 

“I would also like to thank the residents of the area of the incident for their patient cooperation and overwhelming support of our officers as we tried to bring this case to a peaceful conclusion,” he stated in the press release. “Finally, I would like to thank the men and women of the St. Clair Shores Police Department who handled this situation professionally and calmly while taking gunfire from an individual intent on killing officers.”