COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - The suspect in Tuesday’s barricaded gunman hostage incident north of Coldwater that ended in his surrender without injuries following a 3-hour standoff is expected to be arraigned today in Branch County District Court. We’ve learned that he’s from Carleton, Michigan in Monroe County. 39-year old Joseph Leiffer will be facing charges of kidnapping, fleeing and eluding and felony firearm. Following his arraignment, Leiffer will be turned back over to Indiana authorities in Steuben County, where he would likely first face prosecution for allegedly robbing a CVS pharmacy in Angola yesterday morning.
A police pursuit following the armed holdup led officers into Michigan where the suspect pulled off I-69 at the Jonesville Road exit. That’s where the Lion’s Den Adult Entertainment Store is located and where the suspect held the female clerk at gunpoint. One customer in the business at the time was allowed to escape out the rear of the store. Authorities say Leiffer apparently turned into the porn shop parking lot only because Jonesville Road was blocked for a moment by a garbage truck that just happened right then to be pulling out of the lot. Otherwise, it’s believed the suspect may have continued eastbound in his bid to escape capture. Leiffer was in communication during most the incident with a Branch County 911 dispatcher who was eventually able to convince him to release the woman and turn himself over to a Michigan State Police Swat Team.
Branch County Sheriff John Pollack says he’s grateful no one was hurt yesterday, although he used the occasion to be sharply critical of County Commissioners for their budget reductions and road patrol layoffs which the Sheriff said caused his department to be embarrassed for being unable to adequately respond to the events that unfolded on Tuesday. Pollack addressed the County Board yesterday afternoon during the public comment period at the beginning of the Commission’s regular meeting.