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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011

Hillsdale Co. man dies after chase; ex-wife shot earlier

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Scottie Allen Clark. Scottie Allen Clark.
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HUDSON, Mich. -- Six area law enforcement agents were placed on administrative leave Tuesday after the shooting death of a Hillsdale County man they were chasing.

Scottie Clark, 37, of 14670 Church Rd., Wheatland Township, Michigan, died about 5:30 p.m. Monday outside of his home of at least one gunshot wound, according to Hudson Police Chief Charles Weir.

The shooting occurred while authorities were pursuing Clark after he was accused of wounding his former wife earlier Monday at her home in Hudson.

Angela Clark, 27, who is expected to survive, was taken to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, where a hospital spokesman Tuesday night said she had no information on a person by that name.

"He seemed distant. If you'd met him in a public place, you'd notice that he was just very, very quiet," Patrick Garrett, 48, Scottie Clark's ex-wife's next-door neighbor, said of him..

"And she is a very protective mother. When my 6-year-old boy was playing with her kids, she tried to always be there to make sure everything was alright," Mr. Garrett said.

Hillsdale County Sheriff Stan Burchardt said at a news conference that authorities were investigating whether Clark died of a self-inflicted wound or was struck by gunshots from law-enforcement agents. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday at the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Authorities had been chasing him about five minutes after an off-duty Clayton Township firefighter sighted him driving in the area of North Pittsford Road and Church in Wheatland Township shortly after 5 p.m.

Clark was in the same pickup truck that neighbors saw him drive away after his ex-wife was shot, Chief Weir said.

A few minutes later, officers located Clark, and a Michigan State Police trooper tried to initiate a traffic stop. Clark refused the order to stop, and the trooper radioed for assistance.

Sheriff Burchardt said authorities are not sure whether Clark fired first or if he fired at all.

Two deputies from Hillsdale County, two deputies from Lenawee County, one officer from Hudson police, and one from the Michigan State Police are on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

It was unknown how many shots were fired by law enforcement agents, the sheriff said.

A Hillsdale County deputy was injured when the suspect rammed a patrol car into the deputy, who was standing behind it. He was treated at Hillsdale County Hospital.

Clark's former wife was found shot inside her vehicle outside her home at 218 Church St. in Hudson, with the engine running. She was shot about 3 p.m. Monday when police said neighbors called them with a report of a person shot.

The couple's three children, ages 5 through 8, were not home at the time, police said.

The chase began in Hudson and ended when Clark was blocked about 5 minutes away in a driveway outside his home in nearby Hillsdale County. During the chase, the pursuing officers saw Clark display a sawed-off shotgun, which was recovered from his pickup truck, Lt. Jim Shaw of Michigan State Police said.

The couple divorced a couple of months ago, police said. Ms. Clark has custody of the children, and Clark had visiting rights.

Clark has a history of domestic violence complaints against him, authorities said.

Harry Popejoy, 52, Clark's next-door neighbor, said he had talked to Clark only once, when he stopped by sometime last fall to ask for some straw for his dog. Clark had two of his children with him and was friendly, but had not talked to him since, Mr. Popejoy said.

"He did not bother me at all," Mr. Popejoy said.

On April 8, 1993, a Lenawee County Circuit Court judge sentenced Clark to six months in prison and 60 months of probation after he was convicted of breaking and entering a motor vehicle to steal property over $5.

Authorities did not release the names of law enforcement agents involved in the incident, citing an incomplete investigation. Michigan State Police from Jonesville and Adrian, sheriff's deputies from Lenawee and Hillsdale counties, and police from Husdon and Morenci were involved in the chase that ended in the shooting death, the police chief said.

"We need more education on domestic violence," Chief Weir said. "It's a tough issue. And I think we should be aware of it as we take steps to help people."

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com or 419-724-6089.



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