An undercover police officer chasing a burglary suspect through the back yard of a suburban Detroit home was shot five times and killed with a gun stolen from the house, authorities said Tuesday.
Larry Nehasil was hit in the head, back, buttocks, thigh and hip Monday evening as he and other officers tried to arrest two men suspected in as many as 50 area burglaries. One suspect also was shot to death.
Nehasil's bulletproof vest stopped the shot to the back, but not the others, including the fatal shot to the head, said Undersheriff Mike McCabe.
The 48-year-old Livonia officer was part of a surveillance team tailing the two brothers into Walled Lake, about 22 miles northwest of Detroit.
The brothers were suspected in a string of break-ins in Livonia and surrounding communities, and were pulling off a burglary at the time of Monday's shooting, McCabe said.
"The officers were on surveillance. They were doing their jobs," McCabe said. "This was a crime of opportunity. The two suspects were driving down (the street) and saw the homeowners leave their home.
"One brother drops the other brother off and he disappears into the back yard."
The driver then circled the block and backed into the driveway.
One of the brothers was loading a household safe into the car when the officers swept in, cornering the car and driver. David Bowling ran through the garage and out a rear door into the fenced-in back yard with Nehasil in pursuit, McCabe said.
Shots were fired and other officers rushed back to find Nehasil bleeding in the yard. He had been shot with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun stolen from the Walled Lake home. His cause of death was listed as multiple gunshot wounds.
David Bowling, 44, died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Oakland County medical examiner's office.
He was shot twice. One slug entered an arm and lodged in his chest. The other struck him in the lower chest near his abdomen.
Bowling's older brother was being held in the Oakland County Jail. Charges were not expected Tuesday.
Both brothers have extensive criminal records.
David Bowling was convicted in 1986 of armed and unarmed robbery and in 1987 for assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. McCabe said he spent time in prison and was convicted of domestic violence in 2006, and again last year for causing an injury while operating a vehicle under the influence.
He was on probation at the time of his death.
His brother was convicted in 1981 of discharging a firearm causing injury and resisting arrest. He also has several convictions in the 1990s for burglary, armed robbery and receiving and concealing stolen property. In 2007, he was convicted of forgery. He was convicted of driving on a suspended license two years later and was discharged from parole in November 2009.
The Associated Press is not releasing his name because he has not yet been formally charged.
Nehasil was one of four or five Livonia officers working surveillance Monday on the two men, Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey said.
Police — especially those in plainclothes or working undercover — typically will contact their counterparts in other jurisdictions when entering those areas to let them know investigations are being conducted.
Walled Lake authorities and the Oakland County Sheriff's Department were not contacted until after Monday evening's shooting.
Kirksey said the "impromptu nature" of the burglary likely was to blame for the Oakland County agencies not being notified beforehand that Livonia officers had entered Walled Lake.
Police believe the suspects were involved in 30 to 50 burglaries. Investigators came close to making arrests on several occasions, the mayor said.
Kirksey said Livonia police arrested a woman who they believe helped fence some of the items stolen in past burglaries. She was not at the scene of Monday's burglary and shooting, he said.
Nehasil was a 20-year veteran of the Livonia Police Department and had spent about five years on the department's six-member intelligence unit. He worked with the Wayne County Sheriff's Department before joining Livonia police, and was married with two sons.
He was the first Livonia officer shot to death in the line of duty. His funeral is Friday.
"Larry died doing the job he loved, serving the city in which he grew up as a child with pride and honor," his family said in a statement. His killing "reminds us of the dangers that all police officers face daily."