Man suspected of prowling drowns after being chased by deputies
UPDATE (March 9 at 1:30 p.m.) -- The suspect who drowned has been identified as Nicholas Dustin McNutt, 33-year-old male from the Holland area.
The Van Buren County Dive Team recovered a body of a 34-year-old man who drowned in Muskrat Lake after the canoe he was in flipped.
Deputies had been searching for the man Wednesday night after he was allegedly peeping into windows and trying to break into a vehicle and garage near some homes around Muskrat Lake.
Newschannel 3's Mike Krafcik was there as dive teams pulled the body from Muskrat Lake. Deputies say during the pursuit on Wednesday night the suspect jumped in a canoe and tipped over in the middle of the lake.
The body of the man was pulled from a section of the lake that is 30 feet deep.
The Van Buren County Dive Team was able to recover a body from the bottom of Muskrat Lake after only 30 minutes.
Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott said, “So when we put the divers in, it was in 30 feet of water. What the sonar picked up was indeed the subject. We were fortunate to get a quick recovery.”
The man was reportedly lurking around the neighborhood.
Steve Steinman said, “It's kind of strange someone's out messing out, knocking on people's doors, breaking in.”
This bizarre crime spree that led up to the man's drowning left many in this quiet lakefront neighborhood puzzled.
"This stuff doesn't really happen around here in all years I've been here," said Mark Anderson, a Lake Drive resident.
Anderson said the suspect knocked on his door several times last night.
"He said he wanted food. I told him to leave and he left then he just disappeared into the ravine down into the water then he was gone," Anderson said.
Anderson was one of three homeowners in the near Muskrat Lake who called 911 to report the suspect, who deputies say had been peering into windows and tried breaking into a vehicle and a garage.
Steve Steinman, a contractor working on a Lake Drive home said he noticed foot prints in the woods that he believed were the suspects.
"It's kind of strange someone's out messing out, knocking on people's doors and breaking in," said Steinman.
Abbott says the man eventually stole a canoe from a home.
He said, “They came upon him coming out of a pole barn. He had a shovel in his hand and a foot chase ensued.”
When deputies closed in, the suspect was heard screaming for help out on the middle of the lake.
Abbott said, “It flipped over. It was flipped upside down. He was holding onto it and it was sinking with him holding onto it.”
Deputies attempted to rescue the man by throwing out rescue ropes, but they couldn't reach him and he went under.
Abbott said, “Due to the temperatures and low visibility, they couldn't dive last night. Gear started freezing up.”
Investigators seized a pickup truck found close by and possibly tied to the suspect.
Investigators are not ruling out a second accomplice.
"We're getting different stories right now who this may be. and if they are any other subjects involved," Abbott said.
Authorities anticipate releasing the victim's identity Friday morning once family is notified.