Neighbors shocked after soldier home on leave shot and killed

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Police in Berrien County are investigating a New Year’s Eve shooting in St. Joseph Township. The shooting killed 23-year-old Tyrone Hassel III who was an active military member.

Hassel was shot outside his parents’ home while visiting for the holidays.

Neighbors say it’s shocking to see the violence in their usually quiet neighborhood.  

“We don’t have any kind of issues like that,” said Willie Gaddy, who lives just across the street from Hassel’s parents. He’s still waiting for police to give more information about what happened.

“You don’t want to think there’s somebody out here running around just shooting random people. That’s crazy,” he said.

He keeps in touch with all of his neighbors, including the Hassel family.

“The dad, he’s just devastated,” said Gaddy. “The son that came home from the service, he just came home to visit. He comes home once a year, and this happens. So you can’t even imagine the grief that they’re going through.”

Gaddy says the family was cooking together at a family member’s house, while Hassel’s wife was babysitting at Hassel’s parents’ home.  

“He wanted to bring his wife a plate of food home,” said Gaddy. “And took the plate, walked to the house, gave her the food and his dad was like come on hurry up I need you back so we can finish up with this food. And that’s when it happened.”

Police were called to the home just after 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to find Hassel seriously hurt and shot multiple times. He died later at the hospital.

And while the neighborhood mourns the loss of a young life, they’re leaning on each other.

“We’re just watching our back, watching each other’s backs,” said Gaddy. ”We love each other, take care of each other, and that’s how it’s going to be.”

Police have not released what branch of the military he served in. Investigators are asking anyone with information to call the St. Joseph Township Police Department at (269)-429-6890 or Berrien County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.

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