Tpr. Robert J. Mihalik was shot to death while arresting a person suspected of failing to pay for gasoline.
On Sunday, September 9, 1984, a service station attendant called the St. Joseph Post reporting that a man had just left the station without paying for $35.00 worth of gas and cigarettes. The post immediately broadcast the description of the suspect and his vehicle.
Trooper Mihalik was patrolling the I-94 freeway near the area where the suspect was last seen driving. Trooper Mihalik soon spotted the suspect’s vehicle and followed it off the freeway. He was finally able to force the suspect to stop in a residential area of Shoreham, an unincorporated village.
Witnesses saw Trooper Mihalik approach the suspect and heard the suspect arguing. Trooper Mihalik eventually had the suspect turn and take a position of submission to arrest. The suspect continued to argue, and began struggling as the officer started handcuffing him. Trooper Mihalik was able to secure only one handcuff when the suspect suddenly turned and pushed him back onto the hood of the patrol car. The suspect immediately grabbed for the officer’s service revolver, wrestling it away from him. Trooper Mihalik rolled off the patrol car and crouched beside it for cover. The suspect began yelling and waving the gun in the air, then suddenly shot over the hood of the patrol car at Trooper Mihalik.
Subsequent investigation revealed that the suspect fired six shots at Trooper Mihalik, striking him three times. One non-fatal round struck his chin, and two rounds (one of which was fatal) struck his chest. Trooper Mihalik was able to draw his snubnose revolver and fire five shots, striking the suspect’s left hand once. Witnesses kept the suspect in view as he fled the scene a short distance on foot. Back-up officers arrived and administered first aid to Trooper Mihalik. They were also able to arrest the suspect without incident moments later. His right wrist was still handcuffed.
Trooper Mihalik was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:20pm. The suspect was charged with first degree murder and felony murder. He was convicted on both counts in circuit court and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Trooper Mihalik was the 38th MSP officer to die in the line of duty.