Police: Armed home invader shot dead

An armed intruder was killed during a home invasion Wednesday night at Briarwood Apartments in Benton Township, according to police.

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Police are investigating a home invasion in which they say gunfire was exchanged and one of the armed intruders ended up dead.

Benton Township Police Detective Lt. Michael DenDooven said it happened at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at Briarwood Apartments, 1915 Union St., Unit 3-B. The deceased man was identified as Dante Long Jr., 23, of Benton Harbor. 

An autopsy was conducted and the cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound to the left chest and lung, DenDooven said in a news release Thursday. The autopsy also confirmed the man’s identity.

Police were called Wednesday night on a report of a home invasion in progress and shots being fired. Residents told police that two masked gunmen burst into the apartment and ordered the occupants in the living room to “get down.” The renter of the apartment was in a bedroom, heard the commotion and came out of the bedroom armed with a rifle, police said.

The renter encountered one of the home invaders, saw that he was armed with a handgun, and gunfire was exchanged. The intruders fled while continuing to shoot toward the apartment. The renter was not hurt, nor were any of his visitors. 

Upon checking the area, police found a man lying on the pavement outside with a gunshot wound to the chest. Life-saving measures were attempted by first responders, but the man died, DenDooven said.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit was called and tried to locate the second alleged intruder, but was unsuccessful. Police are still looking for the second person, and anyone with information is asked to call the Benton Township Police Department Detective Bureau, 925-1135, or Crime Stoppers, (574) 288-STOP. 

DenDooven said the Baroda Lake Township Police were called to bring a portable fingerprint identification unit to help identify the deceased person. His identity also was confirmed at an autopsy, DenDooven said.

The occupants of the apartment were identified only as three adult males, one adult female and three children. 

Benton Township police and evidence technicians were assisted by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Baroda Lake Township Police, Medic 1 and Western Michigan University School of Medicine Medical Examiner’s Office.

Police are still investigating the shooting. Benton Township Police Chief Brian Smit said once the investigation is finished, a report will be sent to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa