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Real estate agent shot and killed in Roosevelt Park office

By JAMES PRICHARD • Associated Press Writer • July 1, 2008

ROOSEVELT PARK — A man upset about a property transaction shot a real estate agent in the head, mortally wounding him, during a meeting Tuesday morning in the victim’s office, authorities said.

Troy VanderStelt, 34, was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m. at Mercy Health Partners Hackley Campus in Muskegon, said Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague.

A suspect was arrested a short time after the shooting at a home in nearby Norton Shores. Tague identified him as Robert Arnold Johnson, 73, of Roosevelt Park.

Johnson was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Muskegon County District Court on charges of first-degree premeditated murder and using a firearm during the commission of a felony, the prosecutor said.

A conviction on the murder count carries a mandatory life prison sentence with no possibility of parole.

Tague said Johnson plotted to kill VanderStelt, took a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun to the real estate agent’s office, got him preoccupied with some paperwork in a conference room, stood next to him, pulled out the gun and shot him once in the temple.

“We believe this was a planned-out execution-style murder of the real estate agent,” the prosecutor said.

Tague told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids that Johnson believed that VanderStelt took advantage of him in a real estate deal. Johnson bought a house through him in 2005, then recently decided to sell it and went to a different real estate agent. The second agent told Johnson that, because of the slumping housing market, the home was not worth what he had paid for it.

The shooting happened around 8:45 a.m. at Nexes Realty Inc. in Roosevelt Park, a city of about 3,900 people just south of Muskegon.

Police Chief Bill Wiebenga said the suspected gunman was talking with VanderStelt in the conference room when an employee heard a popping sound.

Johnson left the building and drove directly to the Norton Shores home of his former son-in-law, whom he handed the gun. The ex-son-in-law then dialed 911, Tague said.

Police arrested Johnson and took him to the Muskegon County Jail, where he was being held without bond until his arraignment hearing. There was no answer to telephone calls made to his home, seeking comment.

Tague said he did not know whether Johnson had retained a lawyer.

About a dozen people were in the real estate office at the time of the shooting but no one else was injured or threatened by the gunman, Wiebenga said.

The last slaying in Roosevelt Park was in April 1988, when a 90-year-old man and his 87-year-old wife were stabbed to death in their apartment, The Muskegon Chronicle reported on its Web site. The man convicted of murdering them died in prison in 2006.



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