John Wesley Metzelburg fired an estimated 30 to 40 shots at Kalamazoo County Sheriffs deputies during a chase that covered two counties and reached speeds up to 110 mph, a deputy said in court Wednesday. Deputy Larry Czarnowski testified at Metzelburgs preliminary examination hearing that he and Reserve Officer Nick Mihalek were together in a marked police cruiser with lights and sirens on as they followed a blue Toyota Camry driven by Metzelburgs wife from Scotts to Three Rivers, where the car crashed into a tree, on Oct. 29. During the pursuit, John Metzelburg turned in the passenger seat of the car, shot out the back window and fired several times toward the pursuing officers out the back window and from the passenger-side window, Czarnowski testified.
I saw muzzle flashes and heard popping noises from the gun as it fired, he said. It was directed at us.
After listening to testimony from Czarnowski and two Kent County sheriffs deputies who had been following the Metzelburgs, Kalamazoo County District Judge Robert C. Kropf found there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial. John Metzelburg, 36, of Belding, is charged with four counts of assault with intent to commit murder, five counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He could face up to life in prison if convicted of the assault charges. Kent County deputies were trying to arrest John Metzelburg in connection with a series of home invasions there, testified Detective Randy Kieft. He and Detective David Schmuker were following the Metzelburgs in separate, unmarked police cars when they located the couple just before entering the village of Scotts in eastern Kalamazoo County. Kieft had asked Kalamazoo authorities to assist in stopping the car. When the Kalamazoo County cruiser attempted to force the Camry to the side of the road, the driver, Denise Lee Metzelburg, drove around it, Kieft testified.
As Kieft tried to follow, he testified, he saw John Metzelburg lean out of the passenger window and fire at him with a handgun. Kieft said he leaned to the right to avoid the gunfire and drove up on a sidewalk. Schmuker, who was in the car behind Kieft, was struck in the left hand by fragments of a bullet that penetrated his windshield and lodged inside the car, he testified. Fragments also grazed his shirt collar, said Schmuker, who was treated for his injuries. Kieft testified that he continued to follow the Metzelburgs, but had a hard time keeping up with them on a gravel road near Mendon in St. Joseph County. Czarnowski was able to follow the Metzelburgs car until it crashed, where the two were arrested. None of the shots fired by John Metzelburg hit his cruiser, Czarnowski testified. John Metzelburg was in a wheelchair for Wednesdays hearing, his right leg elevated. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Scott Brower said he did not know the extent of Metzelburgs injuries. His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 27 in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court. Denise Metzelburg, 41, also of Belding, is charged with five counts of assault with intent to commit murder and one count of fleeing a police officer.