COLDWATER — A burglary suspect shot himself Wednesday, ending a manhunt and standoff in Coldwater that lasted much of the day, according to Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson.
The man was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after 2 p.m., and Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown pronounced the suspect, 41-year-old Michael Bresley, dead at 2:45 p.m.
Brown said Bresley died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Bresley’s body will be taken to a forensics lab for an autopsy, according to Brown.
Amerson said negotiations ended when the suspect pointed a gun in the direction of deputies. Once that happened, Amerson said, deputies fired 37-millimeter bean-bag bullets at him, and the suspect then shot himself.
“We did everything we could to encourage him to surrender his weapon,” Amerson said.
The standoff occurred in a wooded area behind a Winn-Dixie grocery store, off Taylors Chapel Road. Deputies and Oxford police searched for much of the morning for the suspect.
Based on the sheriff’s statements at the scene, The Star reported earlier that deputies had shot the man. But Amerson and another official called The Star this afternoon to say that was not the case.
Chief Deputy Matthew Wade of the Sheriff’s Office said the investigation was continuing, but that “it is believed that the suspect shot himself.”
During the manhunt, more than a dozen cruisers, including K9 units with tracking dogs, swarmed the area around the grocery store, near the intersection of Alabama 202 and U.S. 78. Before they located the suspect, deputies and police stood guard at the outskirts of the woods, with one standing nearly every 50 feet, many of them holding assault rifles. Deputies also drove an armored personnel carrier in the area during the search.
Amerson said the vehicle helped deputies safely get to a heavily wooded area to reach the suspect.
Roy Bennett, student support coordinator for Oxford City Schools, said by phone Wednesday afternoon that students at Coldwater Elementary had a normal day, despite being just more than a mile from where the suspect was believed to be hiding out.
“It wasn’t a situation where we had someone trying to get in” the school, he said.
The building’s outside doors normally stay locked throughout the day, he said. Buses were set to run on time Wednesday afternoon, he said.
“We were vigilant and stayed in contact with the Oxford Police Department,” Bennett said.
According to the sheriff, a homeowner interrupted a man burglarizing her Alexandria home Wednesday morning. Amerson said the suspect pointed a gun, which he had stolen from the home, at the homeowner and demanded her phone.
Amerson said another suspect, a woman, drove the vehicle in which the male suspect fled from the Alexandria home.
The Sheriff’s Office issued an alert for the suspects and the vehicle, described as a silver van. A deputy on patrol later spotted the van near Winn-Dixie.
Rodney Mullins, a truck driver making a delivery to Winn-Dixie on Wednesday morning, said a minivan came behind the grocery store, nearly hitting his vehicle. He said a woman and a man carrying a pistol ran from the van.
Officers arrested the woman shortly after she and the male suspect fled the van, Amerson said.
After several hours of searching, authorities found Bresley, who began pointing the gun at himself, Amerson said. During negotiations with U.S. Marshals, the Bresley said he was going to die and that he wasn’t going back to prison, according to the sheriff.
State court records show that Michael Bresley, who turned 41 on Wednesday, pleaded guilty in 2011 to seven counts of third-degree burglary and one count of second-degree criminal mischief. He served three years of a 20-year prison sentence, and was granted probation in June, according to court records.
Amerson also declined to release the name of the female suspect, but said she is in custody at the Sheriff’s Office and is likely to be charged in the burglary.
“Obviously it was a very long, drawn out, intense day,” Amerson said.
Staff Writer Zach Tyler contributed reporting.