Neighbor of Man Killed in Standoff: "It's Mike's Way or the Wrong Way" (VIDEO)

The man killed in the standoff that lasted five hours on Vir Mar Street was described as a private man, prone to verbal confrontation.

Neighbors describe with Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies as an extremely private individual, often prone to verbal confrontation with strangers loitering outside his gated home.

The clandestine man, now identified by Sacramento County Coroner's Office as Michael Craig Berger, often shied away from the kids and adults that frequently walked the neighborhood streets, said John Miesen, Berger's neighbor since 1994. When he did approach neighbors, it was usually to shoe them from veering too close to his home, Miesen said.

"There were two ways with Mike," Miesen said. "It was Mike's way or the wrong way."

Miesen explained if Berger didn't know a person, he wasn't likely to go out of his way to be a nice guy. In many, ways even Miesen wasn't sure if Berger liked him.

"At first he was hostile," Miesen said. "Then after four or five years, I'd go up there and talk to Mike and he was friendly."

"I don't know what the hell he did that they had this warrant or what he got so upset about that he had to bring a gun out."

Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos explained units arrived at Berger's home around 11:30 a.m. to issue the warrant for a felony charge of what is technically characterized as making terrorist threats. In Berger's particular case it's, "threats to commit a crime resulting in bodily injury," Ramos said. Ramos could not elaborate on when the warrant was issued or the particular reason for the warrant.

The incident unfolded around 12:00 p.m., when members of the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau arrived at Berger's residence in the 4800 block of Vir Mar Street. Upon arriving at the home, deputies were informed Berger was inside. Despite announcing their presence and directing the suspect to come to the door, Berger remained inside the home and refused to come out.

According to a release, the deputies entered Berger's residence in an effort to serve the arrest warrant. They proceeded through the home and observed the suspect in a bedroom holding a handgun and pointing it in their direction. At that point the deputies backed out of the residence and called for additional officers to respond to the scene.

Over the course of about four hours deputies attempted to communicate with Berger, asking him to come out of the home. According to the release, efforts were made to convince the suspect to surrender peacefully, yet he remained steadfast in his intent to remain inside the home and repeatedly reaffirmed his desire to kill Sheriff’s deputies should the enter the home.

It was around 4 p.m. that Berger was observed exiting a door from inside the garage, brandishing what is being described as a long-barreled firearm toward deputies. According to the release, with an imminent threat to their safety, one of the deputies fired a single shot at the suspect, who then retreated out of sight and back into the home.

Sometime later, deputies deployed a remote-controlled robot to enter Berger's home, observe his condition. Via the robot's onboard camera, deputies were able to observe the suspect in a bedroom. He was unresponsive.

A team of deputies then entered the home along with a tactical medic. The suspect was determined to have sustained a gunshot wound to his upper body, and was pronounced dead.

"We had an officer-involved shooting that resulted in one fatality," Ramos said. "All indications are it was our shot that killed him and it was not self-inflicted."

In the immediate area where the suspect was located were several firearms and numerous rounds of ammunition, according to the release.


Did you know Michael Craig Berger? How would you describe the man? Those with information about him can contact joshua.staab@patch.com.

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Jessica Denning August 23, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Michael Berger was an extremely gifted arborist. He trimmed the trees on our 5 acres in Fair Oaks last year. He trimmed our stately precious 400 blue year oak, in our front yard, which had a dead limb. Cleanly and in just a few deft minutes with his chain saw, the branch plummeted to the ground, and then he hopped quickly brushing off the invaders, when it proved to have a nest of stinging ants in it. Mike had the touch of an artist- I watched him turn a mangled scrub oak in another instance, into a future gorgeous tree. I will watch it grow and remember him. He could see the potential in any plant and his knowledge of plants and animals was encyclopaedic. I am a science teacher and cannot ever imagine knowing as much as Mike did about our local plants and how animals related to them. I do not know what happened in this tragic end to his life, but I do know that Mike was a grizzled survivor of hard work all of his life, stone deaf from the tree chipper, and yet still agile enough to happily shinny up a tree and work with his crew as hard as any man does whose job requires hard physical labor, and I loved him. Our neighbor, herself a park ranger, relied on only Mike to care for her heritage oaks. That is where I met him and how respected he was. He understood plants and animals intimately as few folks ever will. The world was a better place for his being here. We miss him already.


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