Video: New details emerge regarding Sturgis double homicide, officer-involved-shooting

Screenshot from dash cam footage provided by St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department.

A joint press conference between the Sturgis Department of Public Safety (DPS), St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department (SJCSD), and the Michigan State Police (MSP) took place today at the St. Joseph County Training Center regarding the double homicide and officer-involved-shooting which occurred over the weekend.  

Director of Sturgis DPS Ryan Banaszak said the initial call in the City of Sturgis took place on Saturday, August 5 at 10:43 p.m. when Sturgis DPS was called to the area of S. Centreville and S. Street for a report of a shooting, as well as a possible car-versus-pedestrian accident. Arriving officers located the victim, Stacy May Ramsey, with an apparent gunshot wound lying in the roadway. “Ms. Ramsey was transported by Sturgis Public Safety Fire Division ambulance to Bronson Hospital; however, she died while en route,” Banaszak said. 

According to Banaszak, initial reports into 9-1-1 that evening from witnesses advised officers they heard gunshots, and a female was seen lying in the roadway. As witnesses exited their vehicles to provide assistance to the woman, the suspect returned to the scene and struck the victim with his vehicle before fleeing. 

Banaszak said officers received a “significant” amount of help from members of the community who provided information helping identify the suspect as David Algarin, Jr. within the first few hours of the investigation. Shortly after identifying Algarin, officers from Sturgis DPS, SJCSD, and MSP located the suspect at the Sweet Lake Mobile Park on US-12. As officers approached the suspect, he fled; ultimately escaping the area that evening. 

“Pursuant to information that was received during the investigation, officers at that time performed a protective sweep of the residence at the mobile park and located the second victim, Jerry Longacre, deceased,” Banaszak said. “At that time, the scene on US-12 was turned over to the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department as it was outside of the jurisdiction of the Sturgis Department of Public Safety.”

Banaszak said there is no clear motive for the murders at this time, and detectives are working diligently to piece together what happened, and why. “Throughout Sunday morning officers from multiple agencies, including the multi-jurisdictional Special Response Team, continued to search for the suspect, following up on tips and investigative leads with no success,” he said. 

On Monday, August 6 a license-plate-reading camera in the City of Sturgis alerted Sturgis DPS the suspect’s vehicle had passed through the area. Within several minutes, Sturgis officers located the suspect on US-12 and the pursuit was initiated. Banaszak said the sheriff’s department assumed the primary role in the pursuit due to their familiarity with the area and roadways in their jurisdiction. 

Undersheriff Bingaman addressed members of the press next and offered his condolences to the families involved in the incident. “It’s just a sad situation all the way around and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “They are in our thoughts and in our prayers.”

Bingaman said the sheriff’s department initially got involved with Sturgis DPS on the original homicide in the city with their accident reconstruction team. “Information came in, which led us to the Sweet Lake trailer park located at 31004 US-12. We began the investigation, obviously realized we had a homicide there, and we began to process that crime scene,” Bingaman said. The decedent was Jerry Odell Longacre, 61, who was a resident of the mobile park. While officers were collecting evidence and processing the scene on Sunday morning, Sturgis DPS announced they had the suspect heading back to the Sweet Lake Mobile Park again. “In fact, they drove right by where we were,” Bingaman said. 

The suspect’s vehicle was identified the previous evening, the sheriff’s department verified it was the same vehicle they were searching for, and then Bingaman reported some of the police units on the crime scene engaged in the pursuit of that vehicle. The pursuit went eastbound on US-12 Chicago Rd. into the Village of Bronson. “At that time, they turned northbound on S. Madison Lake Rd. and they traveled north until they got to West Colon Rd., which is also M-86,” he said.

Communications between the suspect and dispatch during the pursuit made it “clear” to officers Algarin had homicidal and suicidal ideations, according to Bingaman. As the suspect headed back toward St. Joseph County, Bingaman said officers made the decision to make a pit maneuver to stop the pursuit. “We successfully used the pit maneuver on the suspect, which took the vehicle off the roadway and into a wheat field just short of St. Joseph County, and we were then approximately half a mile into Branch County,” he said.

At this time, the officer-involved-shooting occurred. Bingaman reported the suspect was deceased on the scene, and the sheriff’s department then contacted MSP to conduct the investigation, which he said was “pretty normal protocol” to have a different agency come in and work that separate investigation. 

Bingaman then played dash-cam footage of the officer-involved-shooting for the members of the press, and prefaced it by saying, “This was a unique situation for us because we weren’t sitting on a scene like if we were on road patrol. We were processing a scene, so some of the vehicles had cameras and some did not. If a vehicle is working the roadways, it will have a camera, but this was a special circumstance and this was the one view that we can give you.” Regarding the officer-involved-shooting, Bingaman said he could not go into details because St. Joseph County is not investigating that incident. “The Michigan State Police are investigating that, and it will go to Branch County,” he said.

Bingaman said while the situation was unfortunate, he is very proud of the way law enforcement and the dispatch center handled the incident. “In a small county like ours when you have something like this happen it’s all hands-on-deck,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are with Sturgis Department of Safety or the sheriff’s department; we had resources from all over the county, and for that I thank them.” 

The press conference concluded with Bingaman saying St. Joseph County Prosecutor David Marvin and his office would be handling reports involving information on the homicides. Per the SJCSD’s policy on the Major Crimes Task Force, the prosecutor’s office will then become point-of-contact for any further details and information. 

Beca Welty is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice.