How 'less lethal' force turned deadly during standoff in Coloma

NOW: How ’less lethal’ force turned deadly during standoff in Coloma

COLOMA, Mich. -- Karla Donnell Bragg has lived on Pearl Street in Coloma for almost 25 years and has never seen anything like what happened Wednesday morning.

"The police came and banged on our door to evacuate us at 4:30 in the morning," she said.

Next door, a standoff was unfolding.

Other neighbors were woken up by their dogs, as Berrien County's Tactical Response Unit (TRU) staged around one home.

The woman barricaded inside was pointing a rifle at police.

"I woke up about a quarter to six, come and open my doors and there were all these police cars and cars parked. I had no idea what was going on," said neighbor Patricia Culver.

Police explain that woman was the one who called the police.

Claiming to 911, just after 3:30 a.m., that people were going to try to set her home on fire.

A Coloma Township officer responded but found himself on the opposite end of this woman's rifle.

Plus, police say she told 911 she had the intention of shooting officers.

The Berrien County Tactical Response Unit was called as backup.

"So, we left in our car, sat down on Lionel Road and Southwest for about three hours while the police tried to coax her out," Donnell Bragg said.

Neighbors could hear the officers over loudspeakers, asking the woman to come outside with the gun down and her hands up.

Eventually, at about seven, the police obtained a warrant and attempted to make entry, firing what they call "less lethal" rounds into the home.

"I heard shots at one point, and then that was it," said Donell Bragg.

Berrien County confirms these were twelve-gauge bean bag rounds, not regular bullets.

Still, one of them penetrated the woman's chest, police say, and she later died in the hospital from her injuries.

Neighbors suspect the tragedy was a mental health episode, saying they saw police at the home earlier this week.

The officer who fired the less lethal rounds is on paid administrative leave as the investigation unfolds, which is being handled by Michigan state police.

The name of the officer and the woman who died has not yet been released.

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