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July 25,2004 USMS Office of Public Affairs (202) 307-9065
U.S. Marshals - Jacksonville, FL: 
Deputy U.S. Marshal Ken Staub, Public Affairs Officer
phone: 904-301-6693 


Michigan Cop Killer, Kills Self in Florida As United States Marshals Come up the Stairs

Pictures of Timothy BernerTimothy William Berner,  a U.S. Marshals "15 Most Wanted" fugitive, ended his seven-week run, early this morning in Jacksonville, Fla., with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Berner, 34, was wanted for the June 4 killing of Sterling Heights, Mich. police officer Mark Anthony Sawyers. Officer Sawyers was shot in the head as he sat in his police cruiser writing a report. Sawyers' service weapon is believed to have been taken by Berner.

Acting on a citizen's tip, phoned-in to the "America's Most Wanted" television program, Deputy U.S. Marshals entered a two-story house on the south side of Jacksonville at 5:30 this morning. As a team of deputies climbed the stairs to the second floor, Berner shot himself.

"America's Most Wanted" has featured Berner multiple times. Recent tip information had placed Berner everywhere from Michigan's upper-peninsula to New Mexico.

A 1994 red Camaro captured in the surveillance camera as he drove away from the murder scene in Sterling Heights was found backed into the driveway outside of the house in Jacksonville, still displaying Michigan license plate YSR497.

Berner's fatal bullet also went through a wall striking a deputy marshal in the arm as he was climbing the stairs. The bullet had lost enough velocity, that the deputy's wound was not serious.

Berner was added to the U.S. Marshals "15 Most Wanted" fugitive list July 1. He was also wanted for a series of bank robberies in Michigan. On two occasions this spring, bank robbery surveillance videos reportedly showed him brandishing a shotgun. Authorities believe he may have killed Officer Sawyers to obtain a more concealable weapon for other crimes.

The house entry teams were comprised of deputy marshals from the U.S. Marshals' North Florida Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team, the South Georgia Fugitive Squad, the Atlanta-based Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, deputy marshals from the Great Lakes Regional Task Force and special deputy marshals who were officers from Sterling Heights, Mich., Clay County and Jacksonville, Fla. police and sheriffs departments.

Timothy Berner was a dishonorably discharged Marine, and had worked as a nightclub bouncer in Detroit and in the Windsor Ontario, Canada area. Berner had also worked part-time as a professional wrestler under the name, Vic Vengeance.

Berner's original wanted poster and news release.

Annually, U.S. Marshals arrest more Federal fugitives than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. U. S. Marshals Public Affairs
phone: 202-307-9065 .