By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-On the night of Nov. 14 Scott Laga had difficulty sleeping.
“I could hear helicopters flying over my house all night long,” said Laga, 46, a township resident. “I heard there had been a shooting nearby on Wednesday. I went to work on Thursday morning, but I was concerned about the situation. My wife was home with our 2-year-old and mother in law during the day. I was concerned for their safety.”
Laga’s concerns stemmed from an incident earlier that day where Michael Joseph Quigley, 34, forced his way into a township apartment where his estranged wife was visiting a friend.
He began arguing with both of them and then fired a .22 caliber revolver hitting his estranged wife, Stephanie Quigley, in the back of the head. The suspect then fired another bullet and hit her friend in the eye, according to police reports. Both survived and are recovering from their wounds. Quigley exited the scene and evaded law enforcement for almost 24 hours prompting three schools closings and a massive manhunt.
It was Laga’s actions that apprehended the suspect who was hiding in his GM conversion van about 100 yards behind his home. Laga was honored by the board of trustees on Dec. 4. with an award of recognition and appreciation for invaluable bravery and courage benefiting the citizens and community.
Laga recalled the events leading up to Quigley’s capture.
The manhunt was going on all day Thursday and the news reported SWAT teams were going through the neighborhood and recommended residents lock their doors.
“On my way home from work on Thursday I stopped at Bueche’s for some flowers for our wedding anniversary,” he said.
After he arrived home, Laga drove his SUV to the back section of his property where his conversion van he used for storage was parked near a pole barn, before he went inside.
“I notice the van windows were all fogged up,” he said. “So I pulled my SUV in front of the van, left my door open, grabbed my 9 mm Ruger and opened the back doors of the van.”
At first Laga did not think anything was out of place in the back of the van.
“I was just getting ready to shut the door,” he said. “Then I noticed what appeared to be a pile of blankets in the van. ‘That’s not right,’ I told myself. There appeared to be too many blankets back there. So I lifted the blanket and saw his feet. He never moved.”
Laga pointed his handgun at the suspect.
“I said, ‘It’s over, I need you get out of the van—don’t do anything,’” he said.
I kept my gun on him and we walked back to my SUV to call 9-1-1.
“I told him to lay on the ground with his hands on the back of your head. He did what I said. As I was on the phone (with 9-1-1), my wife was texting me and calling me.”
“I kept my gun on him and I was starting to get nervous, then the SWAT team came out of the woods and took over,” he said. “They were there real fast—maybe two minutes.”
“My adrenaline was high—I was scared before and after I confronted him—but I was really pretty level. Honestly this situation could happen to anyone.”
“I never want to be in that position again,” he said. “I’m really not a gun advocate or NRA supporter—I just want to keep my family safe. I’ve owned a hand gun for two years,” he said. “I support responsible gun ownership. Go ahead and tighten gun laws if you want. I’m good with it.”