Rainbow Farm: Police Criticized For Standoff
Pubdate: Wed, 05 Sep 2001
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette (MI)
Copyright: 2001 Kalamazoo Gazette
Author: Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press
POLICE CRITICIZED FOR STANDOFF
DEADLY END TO CAMPGROUND STANDOFF
The U.S. Justice Department Will Investigate The Shootings Of Two Men
Killed By Authorities During A Standoff At A Campground
An FBI agent shot Rainbow Farm owner Tom Crosslin and his partner on Monday
after Crosslin authorities say he pointed a gun at the agent, one of
several law-enforcement officers surrounding the Cass County campground.
Federal and state police were searching a campground for marijuana
advocates late into Tuesday night.
Police said both men were shot after pointing weapons at law enforcement
officers. But many of those who live near Rainbow Farm, a 15-year-old
campground that promoted medical and recreational marijuana use, lashed out
at police for failing to end the standoff peacefully.
Crosslin, 47, the owner of Rainbow Farm, was fatally shot by an FBI agent
Monday night after a standoff that began Friday. Rolland Rohm, 28, who
lived with Crosslin, was shot by Michigan State Police Tuesday morning on
the campground property.
A third man at the campground, Brandon J. Peoples, was walking with
Crosslin and suffered minor injuries when Crosslin was shot. Authorities
questioned Peoples but did not take him into custody.
Mark Courtade, head of the criminal division of the U.S attorney's office
in Grand Rapids, said the Justice Department's review centers on a second
shot allegedly fired at Crosslin by an FBI special agent. The agent was
extensively questioned by FBI officials, The Detroit News reported
FBI Special Agent Dawn Clenney, spokeswoman for the bureau in Detroit, said
Tuesday night that a special team of FBI agents from Washington also was
investigating. The bureau withheld the names of agents involved in the
shootings, but said the agents will continue working during the review.
The standoff began Friday when deputies went to the farm after neighbors
said Crosslin was burning buildings on his property.
Authorities said Crosslin shot a news helicopter as it flew overhead
Friday. Shots also were fired at an unmarked state police plane Saturday
but missed, police said. Both aircraft landed without injuries.
Police said they believe Crosslin was upset about a Friday hearing to
revoke his bond. Authorities had arrested Crosslin and five others in May
after a two-year investigation into allegations of marijuana use at the
Crosslin was charged with felony possession of a firearm, growing marijuana
and maintaining a drug house. Rohm also faced criminal charges, although it
wasn't clear Tuesday whether he was among those arrested in May. The men
had lived together for about 11 years, family members said.
Police said Crosslin violated an order prohibiting him from holding an Aug.
17-18 festival, prompting the bond hearing.
The campground hosted at least two music festivals each year, HempAid and
RoachRoast, according to its Web site.
Crosslin's younger sister, Shirley DeWeese, said Tuesday that the
campground also held many events for the residents of this rural southwest
Michigan community, including an Easter egg hunt and Halloween hayrides.
"What is America coming to?" DeWeese said as she sat at a makeshift protest
site near the campground. "These people murdered them. There's really no
DeWeese vowed that Rainbow Farm would be rebuilt at another location.
Neighbor Tammy Brand, 31, said she didn't follow the debate over marijuana.
Instead, she knew Crosslin and Rohm because her son is friends with Rohm's
12-year-old son Robert.
"I don't know what their cause was. I just wanted to say, 'It's not worth
it. Robert needs you,"' she said. "We trusted them. We liked them. They
were good people."
Rohm's son was put into foster care in Cass County after the May arrests,
said Rohm's and Crosslin's attorney, Dori Leo.
Rohm's stepfather, John Livermore, said Tuesday that he and Rohm's mother
may try to become the boy's guardians. Livermore also said the family may
sue state and federal police over Rohm's death.
Livermore said he believes Rohm left the house Tuesday morning because he
thought police were going to allow him to see his son.
"He had a learning disability and he trusted them," Livermore said. "I
believe he walked out expecting to see his son and met his death."
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Risko defended police actions and said Rohm
was repeatedly ordered to put down his gun.
"In each occasion both subjects pointed firearms at officers, and I don't
know what else you would have officers do," Risko said.
The FBI has said little about the standoff. Special Agent Dawn Clenney said
officials were investigating and still did not know what sparked the
"It's a big crime scene out there," Clenney said. "We've got a lot to do."
Local, state and federal officials were still at the campground Tuesday
evening. State police helicopters flew overhead early Tuesday and a bomb
squad also was on the scene, but Risko said no bombs had been found. Police
had suspected the property was booby-trapped.
"The house is still smoldering so it will be a few days before we get the
investigation part of it done," Risko said.
Vandalia, about 30 miles northeast of South Bend, Ind., has a historically
A plaque in the town park describes Vandalia as a one-time junction on the
Underground Railroad. Slaves escaping through Illinois and Indiana were
taken in by local Quakers, who guided the slaves east into Canada.
The campground had been one of the town's best-known landmarks. A
state-issued sign pointing the way to the farm was still up on Tuesday
morning, but had been removed by Tuesday night.
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