Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 22, 2013

Shooting suspect on suicide watch


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A suspect in a Traverse City shooting death remains on suicide watch as authorities weigh potential charges.

Robert Lee-Allen Caldwell, 33, told police he accidentally shot his girlfriend, Monica June Anderson, 28, in a failed suicide attempt on Tuesday evening. Officers arrived to their Three Mile Road and Aero Park Drive apartment to find Anderson dead and Caldwell with a gun in his hand.

Detectives continued preparing a case against Caldwell after his arrest Thursday on an unrelated charge. Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said he’s been heavily involved with the investigation, but hadn’t authorized charges as of Friday.

“There’s a lot of information they’re processing in this,” he said.

Traverse City Police Capt. Mike Ayling said Caldwell is on suicide watch in Leelanau County’s jail while awaiting arraignment on a probation violation charge. Jail staff couldn’t confirm Caldwell’s status until he appears in court.

Caldwell told dispatchers Tuesday evening he shot Anderson by mistake while attempting to kill himself. Ayling said Caldwell still held the gun when officers arrived, was told to put it down but it “went off” when the suspect moved toward the back door.

“He didn’t appear to be pointing the gun at them in a threatening manner,” Ayling said.

Caldwell was treated and released from Munson Medical Center for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his hand.

Four Traverse City police detectives are assigned to the case, with assistance from a Michigan State Police crime lab. Ayling said detectives interviewed Caldwell several times, as well as neighbors and two children who were in the apartment during the shooting.

Anderson had a son, 3, with Caldwell and another daughter, 9. Ayling said the children couldn’t support or refute Caldwell’s story.

“The one ... was too young to know what happened,” he said. “The other was in the bedroom and didn’t actually see it.”

Ayling said his understanding was police previously had been called to the residence, and neighbors reported it “wasn’t uncommon to hear fights” between the couple. He expects Cooney to review the case on Monday.

Anderson’s funeral service is scheduled today at 1 p.m. in the Strongheart Center in Peshawbestown. Members of the public who wish to make donations for Anderson’s children and funeral expenses can donate to the Monica June Anderson Memorial at Members Credit Union locations.