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Suspects Held Pending Charges In BB-Gun Attacks

June 10, 1987

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ Police say they stopped a wave of BB-gun attacks on motorists with the arrest of two young people on burglary charges and the seizure of high-powered BB pistols.

Robert J. Ruiter, 26, and Paul C. Yeiter, 17, who were charged with burglarizing a gas station in the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker, have been linked to scores of BB-gun attacks in four cities, authorities said Tuesday.

″The investigation has allowed us to close out numerous malicious destruction of property complaints throughout the Grand Rapids area,″ said Walker Police Chief Walter Sprenger. ″You’re talking about hundreds of cases, from vehicles to storefront windows to you-name-it.″

The suspects, both Walker residents, were being held at the Kent County Jail while police sorted through 250 to 300 related vandalism complaints, most of them BB-gun attacks, authorities said.

The pair were arrested on an industrial road in Walker early Monday by police investigating a gas station break-in, Sprenger said.

Inside the suspects’ car were two pistols that use small canisters of carbon dioxide to propel BBs, several packages of BBs and a metal slingshot, Sprenger said.

The two were arraigned here Tuesday on charges of breaking into and entering an unoccupied building and breaking into and entering a motor vehicle.

The charges stem from the break-in of a Walker gas station, in which motor oil, cigarettes and other minor items were taken, and the break-in of a car parked at a trucking company.

Sprenger said authorities will sort out the scores of BB-gun complaints this week before bringing additional charges against the two.

Ruiter’s bond was set at $15,000, Yeiter’s at $20,000.

Since late April, police in Grand Rapids and surrounding Kentwood, Wyoming and Walker have received numerous complaints of BB-gun and related vandalism.

Some motorists suffered minor injuries from flying glass, while others lost control of their cars, police said.

In one case, a family sitting in their car eating ice cream was showered with glass when the rear window suddenly shattered. In another, a Grand Rapids man said a car followed him and fired BBs at his car, breaking the rear-view mirror and leaving 16 dents.

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