Sheriff: Suspect in deputy death said he was God
The suspect accused of fleeing police and killing an Oakland County Sheriff's deputy Thanksgiving morning is expected to be formally charged in court Saturday, officials said.
The man, a 22-year-old from Macomb Township, is scheduled to be arraigned in 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills via video conference, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Friday. Police aren't releasing his name.
Police said Eric Overall, a 22-year-veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was killed Thursday as he placed stop sticks to halt a fleeing driver on M-15 at the intersection of Seymour Lake Road in Brandon Township. He was assisting in a pursuit that began in Lapeer County, officials said.
Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss details of the pursuit. He said the suspect entered the Lapeer County Jail at 11:41 p.m., approached the intercom and said he was God and he was there to break out one of his "sons" being held captive because of man-made laws. He left and entered the prison next door. He was ordered to stop by police, but he took off in his vehicle. Deputies followed and were able to pull over the suspect more than once and approach the vehicle, at which point the driver took off again, McKenna said.
"This wasn't a normal pursuit," McKenna said. "The entire pursuit was controlled. Not excessive speeds ... when he changed lanes, he used his signal."
Officers thought the suspect was a distraught and disturbed individual and tried to de-escalate the situation, McKenna said.
During the second stop, "he made a statement that he was going to take his seatbelt off and commit suicide by running into a tree," McKenna said.
Officers dropped back near Seymour Lake Road in Oakland County, where they saw Overall facing westbound ready to throw the stop sticks.
"In the video, you can see the deputy deploy the stop sticks and drop back into the grass area. At that time you see the suspect tap his brakes and make almost a 90-degree turn to hit and kill Deputy Overall," McKenna said. "At the time of this, our deputies don't even know the deputy is there. He's struck and the vehicle goes down a swampish area."
McKenna said the suspect called 911, referencing by name one of his "sons" he tried to break out who is in custody in the jail.
"That person has been interviewed ... (is) cooperating and is just an acquaintance," McKenna said.
Visitation for Overall will be held 3-8 p.m. Monday at Mt. Zion Church in Independence Township. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church; doors open at 9:30 a.m.
A Thanksgiving night candlelight vigil drew more than 100 people to honor Overall.
Deputy Michelle Miller said Thursday that her colleague, Eric Overall, was “even-keeled,” ‘’compassionate” and driven by integrity. His wife, Sonja Overall, said he would help anybody — “even the bad guys.”
The deputy was “well off the roadway” when he was struck and the suspect appeared to deliberately aim at the officer, authorities said.
“It is our belief that from all evidence collected that the suspect deliberately ran down Deputy Overall, swerving to hit him,” the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Overall’s death was ruled a homicide by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to police statement.
The suspect is being held at the Macomb County Jail. He was placed in Macomb’s jail because some of the staff at the Oakland County Jail worked alongside Overall, Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said Thursday.
The suspect has four prior convictions for possession of marijuana, and a conviction for resisting and obstructing police, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Overall was known as a kind officer who took children under his wing and was devoted to protecting others, said those who had met him.
Social media immediately swelled with comments in an outpouring of sympathy with news of the deputy’s death.
“My heart is heavy after learning that an Oakland County Sheriff's deputy was killed in the line of duty,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder tweeted early Thursday. “As we gather with loved ones let us all keep this deputy's friends and family in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Deputy Overall was a remarkable man,” Michelle Venticinque Holderbaum posted a GoFundMe page set up to support his family. “He took my son under his wing and offered him guidance, advise and friendship. Our community lost a kind, compassionate man and he will be missed. Our hearts are broken due to this senseless loss.”
A comment from another family said Overall carried himself with caring, compassion, selflessness and respect.
“You touched countless lives on levels you never knew,” said the GoFundMe post. “You were a source of strength and inspiration for people who looked to your courage in times of pain, tragedy, and despair. Now through this pain and hurt, we realize how much love and positive energy you gave to us all.
“We are all better people and cops because we are blessed to know you, and work alongside you.”
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit is investigating the deputy’s death.
Overall, 50, of Genesee County recently was married and has one adult son.
The GoFundMe account was set up after “many folks touched by the tragedy of Deputy Eric Overall’s death” said they wanted to do something to support the family. More than $42,000 had been donated by Friday afternoon.
“Deputy Overall was so kind to our family,” said an entry. “He was the school liaison at my kids school and one day a bike was donated to the sheriff's office and he thought of our daughter and brought it over for her. I am so saddened by this tragedy.”
Associated Press contributed