COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Documents related to a deadly home invasion near Kalamazoo chronicle violent behavior by the suspect beforehand and heroic behavior by responding law enforcement.
News 8 obtained police reports related to Christopher Neal’s murder inside his Comstock Township home Dec. 1. William Jones is charged with breaking in and taking him hostage before shooting him during a standoff with three law enforcement agencies.
Jones had no connection to Neal before breaking into his home on Proctor Avenue, according to documents. He even apologized after the fact, the reports show, but never directly answered questions about what happened inside the home and denied shooting Neal to investigators.
BIZARRE, VIOLENT BEHAVIOR BEFORE BREAK-IN
The documents contain interview notes with several people who had contact with Jones before and during the standoff. In addition to giving perspective on how three officers were shot and wounded during the response, the documents chronicle Jones’ behavior in the days and hours before the shooting.
Jones was in Port Huron Nov. 29. According to an interview with the woman he was staying with, Jones told her to get in a closet and asked if she could hear people climbing through her window despite no one outside. Jones also called 911 that day, claiming the woman’s family was holding him against his will and that the house was on fire.
He was back in the Battle Creek area Nov. 30, where a friend he was staying with told investigators he witnessed Jones smoke meth.
The next day, his friend and another woman offered to drive Jones to a different house where he could stay for the night. As they pulled into a driveway, Jones suddenly instructed them to stay in the car and pulled out a gun. The interview notes with the two hostages state they sat in the driveway for two hours before Jones began dictating directions.
Jones later told investigators he thought he was being followed by police. The two inside the car stated he accused them of helping people who were following him and trying to hurt him.
Jones fired his gun multiple times inside the car, but never hit either of the two others inside.
They eventually made their way into the Kalamazoo area, according to documents, when suddenly Jones instructed his friend to stop the car. They were at Proctor Avenue and Ermine Avenue, just feet from Nelson’s home.
He got out of the car without warning and the two were able to take off unharmed, according to documents.
During the first hostage situation, an ex-girlfriend received several calls from Jones, according to an interview with her after the shooting. At one point, the woman said Jones quickly stated he needed help before hanging up on the call. She also told investigators some of the calls were on speaker phone and she recognized the voices of the two people held hostage in the car.
She ultimately called dispatch to report Jones needed help, though it’s not clear from the documents when exactly that was. Based on the notes, though, Jones did continue contacting her after he was inside Neal’s home.
QUICK ACTIONS BY POLICE TO SAVE ‘LIVES THAT WERE INSIDE’
The timeline News 8 can piece together from documents jumps from when Jones was dropped to the violence that unfolded inside the Neal home. There’s no clear answer as to why Jones broke in, other than repeated statements from Jones himself and others who had contact with him that he thought he was being followed.
The response to Proctor Avenue happened around 10 p.m., when Michigan State Police, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office all sent personnel to the home.
Documents show Jones initially told Neal to call 911 after entering the home and instructed the family to lock all the doors.
Everything played out in a first-floor bedroom. Response notes state Jones held Neal hostage inside the room with the door closed. Neal’s wife and young daughter were hiding upstairs.
A deputy later wrote they decided to enter the home “without hesitation” after hearing a single gunshot “to save whoever’s lives that were inside.” He was one of five people to enter the home.
During the violent chaos, three of the five were shot — none of them fatally. The officers’ narratives in the documents show there was never a clear shot at Jones, so no one fired back after he began shooting through the wall and door of the bedroom.
The deputy who chronicled entering without a second thought ended up on the second floor of the home with Neal’s wife and young daughter, shielding them from rounds that came through the floor.
He made it to them because the two KDPS officers among the response team inside formed “a human shield with their bodies in front of the suspect’s door so that officers could safely make it upstairs,” according to the documents.
Law enforcement was able to get into the bedroom around 10:45 p.m., where Neal was found dead and Jones broke through a window to escape.
Jones was ultimately arrested in the backyard and treated for a bad cut on his stomach and others to his face, which resulted from diving through the window.
He was later charged with 19 criminal counts, including murder.