September 22, 2018
Updated May 2 at 6 p.m.

Standoff situation in Mio resolved peacefully

Posted

MIO - The Oscoda County Sheriff Department, with the assistance of several agencies, negotiated the peaceful surrender of a gunman who had barricaded himself inside a Mio business nearly six hours after the situation began May 1.

Sheriff Kevin Grace said at approximately 12:15 p.m. May 1 his department received calls from Pioneer Pharmacy staff that a man had reportedly entered the business, pulled a gun and ordered the occupants out. He then allegedly barricaded himself inside.

Following the surrender of the gunman - now identified as Benjamin Barron, 36, of Mio - sheriff deputies took the man into custody and lodged him in the Ogemaw County Jail. He was arraigned May 2 in 81st District Court on one felony charge of armed robbery and one misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm in public. According to court documents, Barron is a fourth time habitual offender and if convicted on the felony charge, could face an extended sentence of up to life.

The event caused a period of confusion around town surrounding the incident. Oscoda County Commission Chairperson LaNita Olsen ordered the lockdown of county buildings near the situation.

Olsen told the Herald that she learned of an alleged gunman situation at the pharmacy and contacted the sheriffs department to notify it of the voluntary lockdown.

Grace said it was probably a good idea for the county buildings to go into a lockdown given the proximity to the scene.

Also going into a lockdown situation was Mio AuSable Area Schools. Superintendent Jim Gendernalik confirmed to the Herald that the school were in lockdown as of 1:20 p.m. and students were later released at their usual time. However, Grace said the children were not allowed to walk home from the school. Instead, parents were asked to either pick up the kids or staff members would drive them home.

Fairview Area Schools went into a soft lockdown, according to Superintendent John Sattler. Sattler said that during a soft lockdown students and staff were still able to move about the school. However, the public was prohibited from entering the building.

Sattler said the Sheriff Department informed him Fairview did not need to go into a full lockdown and students could be released at the normal time.

Police began telling people to stay out of Mio Tuesday afternoon and worked to evacuate or lockdown nearby businesses, such as the Oscoda County Herald's downtown Mio office.

At one point early in the situation Grace contacted the Herald and confirmed the situation.

"We have an active scene at Pioneer Pharmacy," Grace said at the time. "We have negotiators on scene to talk to the gunman. No one has been hurt."

Grace later contacted the Herald around 6 p.m. and said the gunman had peacefully surrendered and was subsequently taken into custody. Morenci Avenue in Mio was reopened a short while later.

The pharmacy reopened May 2, after investigators cleared the scene and a full inventory was taken.

Grace said the investigation into the situation is ongoing.

Barron's bond was denied and he will be held in custody until his probable cause conference May 17.

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