After surveilling a pair of suspects thought to be involved in a string of home invasions, a Livonia police officer and one of the suspects were fatally wounded in gunfire exchanged in the vicinity of West Maple Road and Glenwood Drive in Walled Lake around 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17.
A handgun stolen during the local break-in and just before the shootout was wielded by one of the suspects to kill undercover Livonia Police Officer Larry Nehasil, 48.
The suspect who shot Nehasil was also killed. He was identified today, Tuesday, Jan. 18 as 44-year-old David Bowling.
According to Walled Lake Police Captain Paul Shakinas, the two home invasion suspects were brothers.
During the break-in, the pair stole a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun from a residence on the 100 block of Glenwood. The handgun stolen from the residence was the same gun used to shoot and kill Nehasil.
“It’s not uncommon for burglars to steal firearms during a home invasion due to the value and if they locate them in the home,” Shakinas said.
Seven shots were fired during the exchange.
“The suspect was shot twice and the officer was shot five times,” Shakinas said.
Autopsy results show that Nehasil sustained five gunshot wounds to the hip, thigh, buttocks, head and back.
According to Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey, the suspects were being evicted from their Detroit rental home and entered the Walled Lake area to collect a $30 debt owed them. On the way out of that local home, they noticed a neighboring homeowner leaving, and seized the opportunity.
“They decided that they would burglarize that house, but didn’t realize that our officers were doing a surveillance of them,” Kirksey said.
The suspects spotted police before loading their cache of stolen goods.
“One of the suspects left to back out the vehicle so they could load the loot when he spotted our undercover police and bolted out of the driveway and hit the undercover car which was blocking him,” Kirksey said. “The other brother ran out the back door and Officer Nehasil followed him. There was some physical contact in the backyard.”
As a result, Nehasil was wounded in the hip. The officer was able to shoot the suspect twice in the chest, but not before the suspect fatally wounded Nehasil, according to Kirksey.
Shakinas said it remains unclear which party fire their gun first.
“It appears that the shooting was simultaneous,” Shakinas said. “We surmise the suspect pulled his weapon first.”
Shakinas confirmed that both Nehasil and the gunman were killed instantly in the firefight.
“Our officers found both Larry and the suspect dead at the scene,” Kirksey said.
Police apprehended the surviving suspect, identified today as 48-year-old Terry Bowling, who is currently being held in the Oakland County Jail.
According to Shakinas, Terry Bowling attempted to flee the scene in a vehicle at some point during the encounter with police officers, but was rammed by other Livonia police officers and apprehended.
No charges have yet been filed against Terry Bowling, who has spent time in prison for armed robbery, possession of a controlled substance and gun charges.
Nehasil was part of a six-member Livonia police Intelligence Bureau Team working on the case involving a string of break-ins in the metro Detroit area when the suspects were confronted in the residential Walled Lake neighborhood that straddles the border with Commerce Township.
“The surveillance unit came close to arresting the two male suspects a number of times, but it never occurred for one reason or another,” Kirksey said. “They had done some home invasions in Livonia, so that’s how we became aware of them.”
In conjunction with the crime, police have arrested a female and former resident of Livonia whom they believe was associated with the two suspects. The woman was not at the scene of the shootout.
“The team has been trailing them for two weeks so they knew who she was and where she was,” Kirksey said. “The team was getting ready to search the suspect’s rental residence to recover stolen property and to see if anyone else is involved.”
Walled Lake Mayor William Roberts called Kirksey to offer his condolences and comfort.
“It’s very, very unfortunate,” Roberts said.
Walled Lake police has asked the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) to handle the investigation.
“After we were able to look at the scene and the size of the scene, we decided to turn it over to them,” Shakinas said. “They have a Special Investigations Unit that handles officer shootings. We’re a smaller department and had all hands on-deck at the scene. It would have been difficult for us to handle the scene without tying up the entire (Walled Lake) department.”
Roberts said it’s not uncommon for a department the size of Walled Lake’s to defer such an investigation to county personnel.
“Most local departments don’t have the equipment to deal with this and since there are cross-jurisdictional issues, it’s good to bring in the sheriff,” Roberts said. “The case will be investigated by the sheriff with a parallel investigation conducted by our department.”
Walled Lake police were not involved in the surveillance and investigation into the rash of home invasions that Nehasil’s team was working on, according to Shakinas.
“There were cases in Walled Lake and Livonia, so there were ties of involvement,” Shakinas said. “We became aware of the suspects on Dec. 26 and Livonia (police) had been handling the case for two weeks.”
Walled Lake police were the first to respond to the shooting scene on Monday. Police and deputies from from Livonia, Wixom, and Commerce Township arrived shortly after in tandem with the OCSD Special Investigation Unit and Forensic Crime Lab.
Shakinas added that Livonia police did not notify Walled Lake police of their presence in the city prior to the shooting incident, as is common practice.
“They just didn’t have time to notify us,” Shakinas said.
“We appreciate the concern and support from our elected officials and city manager,” Shakinas said. In addition, others have called to support the department with well-wishes.
Shakinas called it “one of the most tragic things” in the city’s history, and said it’s been a decade since there has been “any type of shooting” involving law enforcement in Walled Lake. Shakinas said officers in the Walled Lake Police Department were “shaken” and that the experience has been “humbling” for the city’s police.
Livonia Police Chief Robert Stevenson said Nehasil was a 20-year veteran of the force, and was married with two sons. He said Nehasil had been with the Livonia Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau for a total of “five or six years,” and had also worked with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. This was his second stint with the undercover team.
“Our prayers go out to the family of Officer Larry Nehasil and the entire Livonia Police Department,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy in a statement released yesterday, Tuesday, Jan. 18. “We are particularly saddened because our investigative staff includes several officers who worked with Officer Nehasil for many years.”
Stevenson described Nehasil, who was highly decorated, as “hard-working” and someone “who sought out the most dangerous assignments.” Stevenson told media outlets Monday night that his department was “devastated” by Nehasil’s death.
Stevenson also said that it was the first time a Livonia police officer has been killed in the line of duty in the history of the city, although other officers had passed away in car accidents or from natural causes while still employed with the department.
“Everybody is extremely devastated by this loss,” he said.
“He was dedicated to making life safer for all of us,” Kirksey said. “We are (coping) with the tragedy and at this time we’ve set up a mechanism (for) the family for a memorial. Right now our focus is on the family.”
Assistant editor Kirk Pinho contributed to this report