Donning a wetsuit, fins and with a crossbow pistol strapped to his back, Jeremy Wallace went for an ambitious swim that ended in federal charges and two Michigan schools being locked down after he plunged into a river dividing the U.S. and Canada, swam across it, and then walked 16 miles into town to find the nearest pawnshop where he could steal a gun.
Wallace, a 24-year-old resident of Sombra, Ontario, told police he swam across the St. Clair River into East China Township, Michigan, on Sept. 6 around midnight because he was not eligible to purchase a gun in Canada due to a prior conviction involving weapons there. He told police he intended to swim back to Canada with the firearm once he stole it.
A police affidavit accompanying the charges notes that Wallace also admitted to ditching his wetsuit after a few miles because he began to “overheat” as he set off on foot for the 16-mile walk into New Haven, Michigan.
The Canadian man told authorities he had done his research on the store the night before. He had also brought a hammer with him on the swim “in case he needed to break into the store,” a federal complaint notes.
But things did not quite go according to plan.
NBC affiliate WDIV reported that once Wallace got to the pawn shop in New Haven, employees thought he was acting strange and refused to sell him a weapon. Wallace then allegedly grabbed a .22 caliber Sig Sauer pistol and two clips and fled the store. The store owners contacted the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and thanks to a rapid response, Wallace was located in a wooded area after a footchase before he could slip back across the St. Clair River. The river averages a mile wide in most spots and in September, the temperatures can hover from high 60s to low 70s.
When police found Wallace, according to the indictment filed in a Michigan magistrate court, they found that the crossbow pistol he had strapped to his back contained nine rounds of ammunition. He had also loaded the stolen handgun at this point, too. Police said as they pursued him, due to their proximity and the warning from the pawnshop that he may be armed, the New Haven Elementary School and New Haven High School were forced to go on lockdown.
WDIV reported that a search of Wallace’s home turned up huge caches of ammunition. It is not yet clear why he had such a stockpile.
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