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Neighbors think suspect who shot deputy had been 'practicing and warming up'

Posted at 6:40 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 18:42:05-04

SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP (WXYZ) — Not many people living on Lakeview Court in Superior Township knew 50-year-old Nathan Hardenburg. But a day after Hardenburg allegedly shot a Washtenaw County sheriff's deputy, Eon Hiles says he and some others who live nearby believe Hardenburg was also responsible for gunshots they heard earlier this summer.

RELATED: Barricaded gunman found dead, ending hours-long police standoff in Superior Township

"I think he was practicing and warming up months ago," Hiles told 7 Action News.

Hardenburg's rage began to show Wednesday afternoon when Michigan State Police said he got into an argument with a landscaper and began throwing rocks at the man.

Investigators said Hardenburg retreated into his condominium and quickly emerged with a gun and began to shoot at the landscaper. And Eon Hiles was next.

Moments after Hiles returned from a trip to the store, he saw Hardenburg, a neighbor he'd already begun to think just didn't like him.

"I was walking to my unit and he shot at me," Hiles said. "I turned. He was in his screen door. He shot through his screen door at me. I saw him with the gun. I went to blink and he was racking it up to shoot again and I was already running."

Once he made it inside his home, Hiles and his wife took cover with their pets as he called 911 and neighbors, alerting them to take cover.

"I saw the deputy down. I told 911 'officer down' but then I was ducking for cover because, at that point, it wasn't just an oddball," he said about the man neighbors could never figure out. "He took a shot that I don't know what's really going on and he's actively shooting people."

The wounded deputy was rushed to a nearby hospital by another deputy as a number of law enforcement agencies moved in to surround Hardenburg who continued to shoot.

Nine hours after Hardenburg's standoff with police began, Sheriff Jerry Clayton said they noticed he stopped moving around his home. They entered and found Hardenburg dead.

It's unclear if Hardenburg died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from injuries he may have sustained during an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement.

Some of Hardenburg's relatives have declined to comment on what they think may have led to him opening fire on people.

The wounded deputy is continuing to recover after being treated and released from the hospital.

Michigan State Police are continuing to investigate.