Walmart arson suspect found dead after manhunt

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A suspect in the Niles Walmart arson has died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.

Tim Corbett, St. Joseph County Metro Homicide commander, said the suspect — 31-year-old James Erik Turns — was found dead near the backdoor of a home in the subdivision of Bridlewood in Granger, Ind., Tuesday night.

L. Paul Bailey, Berrien County Sheriff, said the man who died was a suspect in the Niles Walmart arson/shoplifting case.

Corbett said it all began when officers from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department interviewed Turns at a residence on Sharpstone Court in the Granger subdivision of Saddlebrook around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

After a conversation, Corbett said the suspect fled on foot. Indiana State Police and St. Joseph County Police joined Berrien County officers in a foot pursuit of the suspect.

Corbett said the suspect ran behind a home in the Bridlewood subdivision where he attempted to enter a residence occupied by a mother, father and three kids.

Police found the suspect dead near the backdoor of the home at around 9:30 p.m., Corbett said.

An autopsy confirmed that Turns died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Bailey said his department received several tips that led his office to the suspect after they released video surveillance from the Walmart arson/shoplift to the public Tuesday.

A fire was started in the clothing department of the Niles Walmart around 5 a.m. Sunday. Video surveillance shows the man who started the fire then stole electronics.