BEDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (Battle Creek Enquirer/WZZM) -- A 30-year-old Battle Creek man is expected in court Thursday, charged with open murder and armed robbery in the Wednesday slaying of a gas station clerk.
Shawn Pike was arrested about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, six hours after Battle Creek police found Nicole Gates, 27, stabbed to death.
A second man, 21, was arrested on a charge of being an accessory after the murder.
Gates' body was found in a back room of the Citgo gas station at 2410 W. Michigan Ave. in Bedford Township. Police believe she was killed about midnight as she was closing the store.
"She was the only one at the store," said Detective Sgt. Jim Martens. "They close at midnight and it appears it happened right around closing time."
Martens said police believe Pike stole some cash, beer and cigarettes from the store and then drove off in Gates' car.
Martens said Gates and Pike were acquaintances.
"They know each other and she may have felt comfortable with him," Martens said.
About 3:30 a.m. police were sent to the station after an acquaintance of Pike told them Pike may have robbed the Citgo and murdered someone, Martens said.
Martens said police recovered Gates' vehicle on Grandview Court and believe he met up with friends and went to the Rodeway Inn at 4786 Beckley Road.
Police learned Pike might be at the motel and began searching that area, Martens said. About 5:30 a.m. he said an officer noticed a cab in a gas station parking lot at Capital Avenue and Beckley Road and saw a man matching Pike's description walking nearby. However the man ran off and disappeared.
Police then learned he might be downtown near the city's bus and train station.
Officers stopped and searched a westbound Amtrak passenger train just as it was leaving and also ordered the Battle Creek Post Office and Full Blast to be temporarily closed.
Police did not find Pike or the second man, whose name they did not release, until about 9:30 a.m. when they were seen walking near Capital Avenue and East Territorial Road.
As officers began arriving in the area, Detectives Randy Reinstein and Jeff Coons arrested one of the men in a parking lot behind stores on Capital Avenue Southwest and the other man in the driveway of a home at 39 E. Territorial Road.
Lt. Austin Simons said more than 25 officers from the Battle Creek Road Patrol, Detective Bureau, Crime Lab, and Michigan State Police Fifth District Fugitive Team worked on the case. Officers from Emmett Township and the Calhoun County Sheriff Department also assisted.
Both men were questioned and lodged in the Calhoun County jail.
Police were still working at the scene of the homicide and obtained a search warrant to search a room at the motel.
Martens said they recovered the knife believed used to kill Gates.
The homicide is the third in Calhoun County this year.