Bird Thief Suspect Gets 70 Years For Shootout With Cops
UPDATED: 9/18/2013 4:00 p.m
KNOX, Ind. (STMW) – Michael Drogosz, who started with an alleged bird theft in Naperville and soon ended up the gang ringleader in a shootout with Starke County (Ind.) Sheriff’s Police in February, has been sentenced to 70 years in prison.
Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall accepted the state’s plea agreement with Drogosz, 26, and sentenced him to 30 years each for two counts of attempted murder, and 10 years for conspiracy to commit armed robbery Thursday. The sentences will be served consecutively.
The timeline of the events surrounding the almost cult-like members of Drogosz’s gang began in Naperville, where Drogosz allegedly stole an exotic bird from Petland. Soon after, he traveled to Starke County, where he grew up.
He stayed at the home of childhood friend John Brooke, a collector of guns and rifles, including some assault rifles.
There, Drogosz and others planned to have a shootout and then rob two or three banks in nearby Knox. Drogosz had told the gang members he would not go back to prison.
But police, serving an Illinois warrant for Drogosz arrest, arrived unexpectedly. A shootout ensued, with police eventually arresting the members of the gang. Drogosz fired 50 or 60 shots at sheriff’s police.
It appears the defendants will all end up with plea bargains, serving lengthy prison sentences.
All but two of the six people charged in the shootout have now been sentenced. Kim Hitchens was to have appeared in court Thursday, but her attorney requested a continuance. Brooke will appear Oct. 26 for sentencing.
Brooke, 23, of North Judson, Ind., was originally charged with six felony counts, including possession and manufacture of Molotov cocktails and a pipe bomb. In court, Brooke several times referred to planning to kill six or seven police officers. Hall convicted Brooke of two counts of attempted murder.
James Reed received 10 years in prison, with four suspended. He will also serve four years on probation.
Burlie Hardeson received a plea bargain for theft (stealing the steel to make the body armor the gang planned to use during shootouts with police and at the banks); and unlawful possession of body armor. He received a sentence of six years, with much of that suspended.
Kim Hitchens pleaded guilty to possession of a destructive device and assisting a criminal.
Dustin Scott, who traveled to Illinois and brought Drogosz to Bass Lake, was sentenced to 39 months for assisting a criminal. He also will serve 12 months on probation.
Drogosz was charged with the Jan. 19 theft of a 7-month-old female macaw from the Petland store at 720 S. Route 59 on Naperville’s far west side. The parrot, valued at $2,500, was later recovered in Chicago.