WAYLAND, Mich. — An arrest has been made in the felonious assault of a police officer early Sunday. The owner of a business damaged in the crime spree has identified the suspect as a former employee, 31-year-old Christopher Lee Galbraith.
At 5:58 a.m. Sunday, the Wayland Police Department responded to an area on Clark Street at the request of residents. A neighbor in the area had called 911 concerning some suspicious behavior, describing a pickup truck that was parked behind a swimming pool in their backyard.
The residents were on scene when an officer arrived. The pickup truck was found to have indeed crashed into a swimming pool. The vehicle was found idling and abandoned.
The officer heard the sound of a radio playing coming from a nearby building and proceeded to investigate. He followed the noise and numerous items of property scattered about the yard into the front large doors of the building.
Upon approaching, the officer saw a person inside a mid-sized red Oldsmobile Sedan. The officer ordered the man to stop, but the suspect accelerated at the officer, forcing him to move quickly to avoid being hit.
The officer continued to yell commands from just a few feet away as the driver left the scene.
The driver appeared to be fleeing the area, pulling out onto Clark Street, but suddenly stopped, put the sedan in reverse, backed about 75 feet across a lawn and crashed into the Wayland police cruiser, a full-sized Chevrolet Tahoe that had its headlights and taillights activated at the time it was hit.
The driver’s sedan was so damaged from the hit, that he jumped out and began to run away. The officer yelled for the suspect to stop. The officer noticed the suspect carrying a long object as he ran into a nearby wooded area.
The Allegan County Sheriff's Department attempted a K-9 track on scene. Michigan State Police and Gun Lake Tribal Police assisted as well.
A short while later, a trooper located the driver, who was now riding a bicycle. The suspect attempted to evade the trooper but was quickly taken into custody.
Once the suspect was in police custody, investigators worked to backtrack where he had been and what he had been doing. They found that he had attempted to carjack a vehicle from a customer at Wayland Laundry, located at 1114 Superior St.
The victim of the attempted carjacking told police that the suspect was carrying what appeared to be a long gardening too. The suspect pounded the tool on the ground and told the victim he was taking his car because the police were after him.
The suspect was not able to steal the car, but was able to find a bicycle that he was eventually caught fleeing the scene on.
Investigators say they eventually found that the suspect had caused substantial damage to a business in the area of Clark Street that they had originally responded to.
The business owners told FOX 17 that there was probably around $20,000 to $30,000 worth of damage done inside their building. The suspect allegedly damaging tools including a welder, a transit laser and other equipment.
An owner of Black River confirmed the man involved was former employee Christopher Galbraith. About him they said, "He was always a bit goofy but he seemed like a good kid... hopefully we can find the help he needs wherever he ends up."
The suspect was lodged at the Allegan County Jail for feloniously assaulting a police officer with a motor vehicle, felony fleeing and eluding, felony malicious destruction of police property, attempted carjacking, felony malicious destruction of property at Black River Waterproofing and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
He is expected to be formally charged in the case sometime this week.
According to court records, Galbraith was also arrested on Sept. 28 on a felony charge of obstructing a police officer. The owner of Black River Waterproofing told FOX 17 that he had never come back to work full-time after that arrest. Saying, "We knew there was an altercation then and we heard a few different sides of the story and thought we’d try to give him another chance but obviously that didn’t pan out too well."
The Wayland police officer who was almost injured by the suspect is a 16-year veteran of the department.
The incident remains under investigation.