Grayling first responders were spot on as bomb threats were handled in community
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A failed attempt to divert law enforcement resources away from a bank heist which took place in another part of northeast Michigan put Crawford County first responders to the test on Friday.
At 8:16 a.m. on Friday, September 6, a phone call from an unknown person was received by Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital’s main phone line stating that there were explosive devices placed at all the entrances to the hospital. The hospital staff immediately called 911 and alerted authorities.
The hospital went on immediate lockdown and officers from the Grayling Department of Public Safety, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, and Michigan State Police responded and secured the hospital and the surrounding area, stopping all traffic in and around the hospital.
The local schools were notified and went on lockdown as well. As the investigation was under way, more information was obtained that there was more than one bomb threat in the area and threats were made to schools and hospitals in Arenac, Ogemaw, Roscommon, and Iosco counties.
Meanwhile, a woman, who serves as caretaker for a cemetery in Rose City, noticed a suspicious black pick-up truck parked near the cemetery. She took a photo of the truck and sent it to the West Branch Post of the Michigan State Police.
Around 9:20 p.m. the Rose City Mercantile Bank was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money, said Lt. David Kaiser, the public information officer for the Bay Region of the Michigan State Police.
The suspect was described as a white male, wearing a white hoodie, who fled on foot and was driving a black pick-up truck as the getaway vehicle.
City, county, and state police patrol vehicles started searching for the truck.
A short time later, deputies from the Arenac County Sheriff’s Office spotted the truck traveling on M-61 near Standish. A tactic known as precision immobilization technique was used to move the truck off the road using a police cruiser, causing the truck to be disabled.
The driver fled into a cornfield on foot. City, county, and state police officer established a perimeter around the field. The State Police’s Emergency Response Team, a helicopter, and K-9 units were called in to help with the search.
Ultimately, a drone from the Sterling Area Fire Department was used to locate the suspect. He was taken down by a K-9 unit as he attempted to flee the field around noon.
The suspect is a 31-year-old-man from Bay City.
“With all of the coordinated efforts, we had the suspect in custody in a short order,” Kaiser said.
State police started interrogating the man on Friday. They hoped to gather evidence from inside the truck and to locate a cell phone to determine if it was used to call in the bomb threats.
“It will be quite a process for us,” Kaiser said.
The Grayling Fire Department, Frederic Fire Department, Grayling Department of Public Works, and Mobile Medical Response helped secure the hospital and schools in Grayling. Financial institutions also went on lockdown.
“All we know is this appears to be huge diversion for a bank robbery,” said Crawford County Sheriff Shawn Kraycs.
Kraycs urged residents to be aware of their surroundings and to alert authorities when something or someone appears out of place.
“Be diligent. Keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t take your safety for granted every day. You have to be cognizant of your surroundings,” he said. “I don’t know if this a sign of the times or what.”
Anyone with information on the robbery or the threats should call the West Branch Post of the Michigan State Police at (989) 345-0956.