The relative quiet of Benton Township’s Briarwood Apartment complex erupted in gunfire shortly before midnight last night, Wednesday, November 20th, leaving an accused home invader dead in the parking lot and an accomplice escaping into the night.
Benton Township Police Detective Lt. Michael DenDooven says his department was called to the popular apartment complex on Union Avenue around 11:26pm last night on reports of gunfire and a home invasion underway.
Authorities raced to Apartment 3-B at 1915 Union Avenue, and made contact with the residents of that unit. According to the homeowner, two masked gunmen forced their way into the apartment and ordered those inside to “get down.” The renter of the unit was in a bedroom and upon hearing the commotion armed himself with a rifled and ventured out to see what was going on.
When he ran into one of the home invaders, he saw that he was brandishing a handgun, and shots were fired. The two black men accused of the invasion then fled from the apartment continuing to fire shots in the direction of unit 3-B.
As police scoured the grounds of the complex, they found one of the masked gunmen laying on the pavement outside of the building, suffering a gunshot wound to the chest. Medic 1 was called to the scene and life-saving measures were employed, but not successful in reviving the man and he was declared dead at the scene.
The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit was brought in and attempted to track the second attacker, but was unsuccessful in locating him. Baroda Lake Township Police Department arrived on scene with a portable fingerprint identification unit. The man who was pronounced dead at the scene was identified through the use of the portable fingerprint unit, however police say his identity will not be released at this time, as an autopsy is pending.
Benton Township Police Department Evidence Technicians processed the crime scene. The occupants of the apartment under attack were identified as 3 adult males, 1 adult female and 3 children, who were all unharmed.
Benton Township Police have not located or identified the second man at this time, and say that no further information is available. However, they are asking anyone with information on the case to contact the Benton Township Police Department Detective Bureau at (269) 925-1135 or Crime Stoppers (574) 288-STOP.
DenDooven’s department was assisted on the scene by the Benton Charter Township Police Evidence Technician Unit, the Berrien County Sheriff Department’s Road Patrol, Berrien County Sheriff Department’s K-9 Unit, Michigan State Police Post 53, Baroda Lake Township Police Department, Medic 1 Ambulance Service and Western Michigan University School of Medicine Medical Examiners Office.
*****Update: Police have identified the man shot last night as 23 year old Dante Long, Jr. of Benton Harbor. An autopsy was conducted at the Western Michigan University School of Medicine Medical Examiner’s office. The cause of death was determined to be a gun shot wound to the left chest and lung. Police are still searching for the second home invasion suspect.