STANDISH, MI — When police entered the rural Michigan home of an ex-police officer to serve a search warrant, they were struck by the strong odor of propane and the sound of gas rushing from a cut line.
Moments later, they found a device of fishing line and matches, a booby trap that was rigged to erupt in flames had a certain door been opened.
Three Michigan State Police troopers shared these details during the preliminary examination of 67-year-old Roger A. Broadstone, held Tuesday, May 11, before Arenac County Chief District Judge Richard E. Vollbach Jr.
Trooper Adam Whited testified that on Jan. 20, he went to Broadstone’s Twining home as part of an investigation into credit card fraud regarding purchases made from a West Branch Walmart.
Whited had developed Broadstone as a suspect in the case and went to his house to interview him, he said.
Broadstone would only speak with Whited through an open window and told him he would need a search warrant to enter the house. Whited left the scene and returned with a search warrant about three hours later, he said. Joining him on the second visit were two more troopers and two Arenac County Sheriff’s deputies.
The police knocked on Broadstone’s door and announced they had a warrant.
“I advised that we were going to make forced entry into the residence,” Whited said. “We attempted to enter the residence, at which point it was found a couch had actually been pushed up against the door to prevent us from entering.”
As they entered the house, Whited heard Broadstone say “I could have taken you all out,” he testified.
Whited testified Broadstone was in his basement and appeared to be barricading the door to it.
Police exited the house and radioed for the state police’s Emergency Support Team to respond. At some point, Broadstone exited through a basement window and was arrested after resisting officers, Whited said.
Officers detected “overwhelming odor of propane gas coming from the residence,” Whited said. They also found a crossbow with its bolt ready to be fired, .30-06 ammunition, and a booby trap set up at the basement door, Whited said.
“The way this was set up was a fishing line from the exterior door to a group of matches that had been secured together,” Whited said. “It appeared that the intention was that if the door was opened, the matches would strike. The box of matches was placed above that, so once the matches were struck it would then light the box of matches sitting above it on fire and this device was all placed above a gas line that had actually been cut, which is where the propane was coming from.”
MSP Trooper Brian Grezeszak testified he was among those who entered Broadstone’s home.
“As I was making entry, I heard Mr. Broadstone yell to me, ‘Bang, you’re dead,’” Grezeszak said. “As we were walking around the house … we could hear the propane rushing through the line into the house.”
After Broadstone crawled out of his basement window, he began fighting with police, prompting Grezeszak to try drive-stunning him with his Taser. Broadstone grabbed the Taser and ended up injuring another trooper’s hand in the fracas, Grezeszak said.
MSP Trooper Richard C. Kearns, a member of the Third District Emergency Support Team, said Broadstone was initially compliant when he exited his house, then began resisting. Kearns said he used his ballistic shield to push Broadstone to the ground as he fought.
“After I hit him with my shield, Mr. Broadstone was able to grab the backside of my helmet, which pulled my helmet down and pushed my chin to my chest, which was effectively choking me at that point,” Kearns said. Kearns tossed his shield aside and repeatedly punched Broadstone in his head, he said.
Broadstone also attempted to grab a rifle Kearns had slung across his chest, the trooper testified.
Broadstone was arraigned Feb. 1 on the following 16 counts:
· Five counts of attempted murder
· Four counts of assaulting, resisting, or obstructing police
· One count of assaulting, resisting, or obstructing police causing injury
· One count of disarming a police officer, non-firearm
· One count of attempting to disarm a police officer of a firearm
· One count placing an offensive substance with intent to injure
· One count of arson-preparation to burn a dwelling
· One count of felon in possession of ammunition
· One count malicious destruction of police property
Tuesday’s hearing concluded with Arenac County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Windsor adding a fifth count of assaulting, resisting, or obstructing police. Windsor also asked Judge Vollbach to bind Broadstone’s case over to Circuit Court for trial, a request the judge granted.
“All the mechanisms were there,” Vollbach said. “If the door would have opened and the mechanism would have worked as apparently it was planned, I don’t know if the house would have completely exploded. I don’t know, but it sounds a little bit ‘MacGyverish.’ That’s what I would draw the conclusion might happen and I suspect others might conclude that as well.”
The original credit card fraud case stemmed from a Merritt woman alleging her card information was used to buy $1,500 in merchandise from Walmart. Broadstone allegedly picked up the merchandise and was captured doing so by surveillance cameras, police have said. Broadstone did not know the woman whose card had been used, police have said.
Broadstone had been conversing online with a woman in Spain, who had obtained the Merritt woman’s card information and made the Walmart purchase, then asked Broadstone to pick up and ship the items to her, defense attorney Duane L. Hadley previously said.
Broadstone in January 2020 attended a Bay County Board of Commissioners meeting, in which he voiced his support for Bay City becoming a “Second Amendment sanctuary city” and shared his fears of law enforcement coming to seize citizens’ firearms.
“Somebody tells me I’m crazy … but then they will come out to your house and they’re gonna come with a SWAT team,” Broadstone said at the meeting. “They’re not gonna come, knock on your door, and say, ‘Please, give me your gun.’ They are gonna come in force. … they go up against a normal citizen that is alone in the house that has no way of protecting himself at all and they will either take the gun or kill that person.”
Hadley also confirmed Broadstone was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, the day insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overthrow the 2020 election results of incumbent President Donald J. Trump after losing to Democrat challenger Joseph R. Biden.
“My understanding is him and a few other people from the Standish area went out there,” Hadley said. “They just wanted to see President Trump. They weren’t involved in the riots or anything like that. He wasn’t involved in that.”
Broadstone’s Facebook page features numerous links to pro-Trump and election fraud conspiracy theories, many of which carry disclaimers that fact-checkers have disputed the information therein.
Broadstone was also vocal on social media criticizing Capitol police for the death of 35-year-old rioter Ashli Babbitt.
“The Police Murder that woman,” his account posted on a Facebook group called Michiganders for Constitutional rights. “They shot her for no reason. She was just standing there”
A photo on Broadstone’s profile shows him standing before the Washington Monument with American and Trump flags raised. The account commented on the photo on Jan. 10, “I would do it all over again.”
Broadstone previously served as an Oscoda County Sheriff’s deputy from June 30, 1986, to Sept. 5 of the same year. He also was employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections in the 1980s and ’90s, staff have confirmed.
He also has a criminal record that includes convictions for malicious destruction of property in 1997 and maintaining a drug vehicle, assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful imprisonment, carrying a concealed weapon, and delivering or manufacturing marijuana, all from 2011.
In September 2011, Broadstone was sentenced to 18 months’ probation on a concealed weapons conviction.
Broadstone remains in custody. His case is set for a pretrial conference at 9:30 a.m. on June 2.
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