Niles teen sentenced to prison for Little Caesars shooting

Published 1:12 pm Monday, July 8, 2024

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NILES — The shooting outside a Niles business in January has resulted in a prison sentence for the shooter. 

Berrien County Trial Court Judge Jennifer Smith sentenced Sawyer Matthew Holloway to a prison term of 14 months to 10 years Monday at the Niles courthouse.

Holloway, 19, of Sheffield Avenue in Niles, pleaded guilty in May to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. In addition to the prison term, he was sentenced Monday to pay $258 in fines and costs and forfeit his weapon. He has credit for 173 days already served.

Holloway had also been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Those charges were dismissed.

The incident occurred in the morning of Jan. 17 in a driveway in the 1200 block of South 11th Street. The person shot, Mal Derwood Wynn, 34, of Niles, was treated for a gunshot wound to his thigh and released later that day from South Bend Memorial Hospital.

Niles police reported Jan. 17 they were dispatched to the Little Caesars Pizza at 1244 South 11th shortly after 10 a.m. that morning for a malicious destruction of property complaint involving two employees who were in a verbal dispute.

They reported that they received a 911 call moments later of a subject who had been shot and received a non-life-threatening injury. The location of the shooting victim was the Dollar Tree store located at 1202 S. 11th St and officers responded to both locations.

“This was an egregious action,” Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Kate Arnold said Monday.

“He has no (adult) criminal record and right out of the gate he has this charge after getting into an argument with a co-worker. He’s a danger to the community with his using a weapon to resolve a dispute.”

Defense attorney Kaitlin Locke said that Holloway was struggling to cope with the death of his grandmother at the time of the incident and felt that Wynn had disrespected him by throwing something at his car.

“To react like that was egregious but he felt he had been disrespected,” she said.

Locke said that Holloway has shown remorse and asked Judge Smith to consider the fact that Holloway’s brain at age 18 or 19 is not fully developed.

“This has been a life changing event for him and he’s learned from it,” she said.

“I apologize to the victim and his family,” Holloway said before the sentencing. “I feel remorse and regret. There is no excuse for what I did. I’m trying to better myself. I want to go to college and take business classes.”

Judge Smith said that she had to take into consideration not only Holloway’s actions in this incident but also a juvenile incident when he stabbed someone with a knife.

“Here are two instances where you reacted in this way,” she said. “I found it disconcerting and baffling that you reacted like this.”

She said that any alleged actions by Wynn didn’t justify Holloway shooting him. She also pointed out that Holloway was carrying a gun illegally.

“Quite honestly, what weighs on me the most heavily is placing you back in the community where someone or something could stress you,” she said.

She noted the support of over a dozen family members and friends who were there Monday.

“You have support here, I wish you had leaned on that,” she said. “Now you’ve stabbed someone and shot someone. I considered probation but I don’t have a handle on why you are doing these things. You don’t have a lengthy record but you are a danger to the community.”