WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A businessman who gunned down a police officer at his suburban Detroit home held authorities at bay for hours with an arsenal of high-powered rifles and other weapons before finally killing himself, officials said Tuesday.
Officers were responding to a report of a possible suicide attempt Sunday night at the home in West Bloomfield Township when Ricky Coley shot Officer Pat O’Rourke, authorities said. About 15 families were evacuated from nearby homes during the subsequent 20-hour standoff that ended when Coley was found dead in his bed Monday evening.
More than 1,000 people attend a memorial vigil for O’Rourke outside the township police headquarters Tuesday night.
Sheriff Michael Bouchard told reporters Tuesday that the standoff lasted so long because relatives had warned investigators about his weapons, and because of a barrage of gunfire from Coley.
“It appeared to be just a battle mindset,” Bouchard said. “He had the firepower. He had barricaded windows and covered doors. And the way he was firing — probably because part of his military background — he knew the best way to fire and not be spotted by a sniper.”
Coley, a military veteran, had “a fully automatic Uzi” in addition to high-powered rifles, handguns, knives, a bullet-resistant vest and protective goggles, Bouchard said.
Coley, 50, was recently divorced and had been ordered to leave the home by Monday. He also faced financial and legal turmoil, including a lawsuit from federal authorities accusing him of mishandling employee’s insurance funds. West Bloomfield Township police said they had also been called to Coley’s home about a month ago because he was reportedly suicidal.
He killed himself with a gunshot to the mouth, according to a report released Tuesday by Dr. Cheryl Loewe of the Oakland County medical examiner’s office.
Coley owned CNC Holdings, a private equity firm that bought 51 percent interest in Translogic Auto Carriers in 2008. Translogic, an 8-year-old company based in the Michigan Thumb-area town of Bad Axe, hauled new vehicles from automakers to dealerships. It had more than 200 drivers and employed dozens of others in the community.
Coley, who had worked for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, believed he knew what automakers needed, said business partner Lyn Tetreau, who owned the other 49 percent of Translogic.
“Coley wanted to be involved in everything,” Tetreau, 45, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I was the minority owner. He was the majority. He demanded more so than suggested what we do. Coley and I had a totally different direction. We did a lot of bumping heads.”
Tetreau said Coley fired him twice as company president, leading Tetreau to go to court so he could stay in charge of operations.
The U.S. auto industry was collapsing and the nation was in the Great Recession. By 2010, Translogic had filed for bankruptcy, despite Tetreau’s putting about a $1 million of his own money into the company.
But Coley appeared to be making money off Translogic even when bills weren’t being paid, Tetreau said.
“He put himself on a huge salary, working a couple of days each week while barking out orders,” Tetreau said. “Coley was trying to leverage as much capital as he could for himself. Myself and the staff became puppets, and he was pulling the strings.”
The U.S. Labor Department recently filed a lawsuit accusing Coley of mishandling money meant to cover employee insurance. The lawsuit says Coley also transferred $342,000 from Translogic to himself or his affiliates.
Tetreau said that was just one factor in Coley’s troubles.
“I don’t believe what has taken place with Coley was based on his life at Translogic,” Tetreau said. “I think he had financial troubles and couldn’t get his hands on much cash and was not being able to control his personal life.”
Coley had lost his home as part of a divorce judgment. His ex-wife, Deniece Coley, also was to receive $190 each week in child support for their 7-year-old son. They were married in 1998 and separated June 12, when Deniece Coley moved out.
In filing for divorce, she claimed Ricky Coley was “at fault for the breakdown of the marriage due to his infidelity, physical, mental, emotional and psychological abuse.” She said he had attacked her on two occasions.
Deniece Coley could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A man who answered the phone at a number listed for her in the divorce filing declined comment before hanging up.
Residents who live in the upscale neighborhood where the standoff happened were back home Tuesday.
Jeannie Zimbalatti pointed to a bullet hole in one of her bedrooms. She said her family was “trying to reconcile how we knew Rick to what we were seeing on TV.”
“We were unaware of what was transpiring in his personal life,” she said. “I’d had conversations with him about his business, and we knew things were tough. But there were no signs of any of this coming. He was an incredibly nice person to us.”
Associated Press writers Mike Householder and David N. Goodman contributed to this report.