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One person in custody after homicide in Kalamazoo

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A person of interest in a homicide is in police custody after a standoff in Kalamazoo.

Police were called around 11:30 a.m. to a residence in the 1500 block of Charles Street. Upon arrival, they found four children in the home and a woman’s body surrounded with a large amount of blood.

The children, ranging in ages from 2-8,  alerted neighbors who then called police.

Friends have identified the victim as 35-year-old Nikkole Riojas, a mother who had struggled to get away from her estranged boyfriend.

"She was nice, always there. Always there. Always there for you, anything she could do," said Mara Woodruff.

Woodruff says the boyfriend had threatened Riojas in the past.

"She was getting away," Woodruff said. "This was her getaway. It didn't take him long to find her though."

After identifying a person of interest in her death, police attempted to make contact with the 32-year-old man. When a sergeant spotted his vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop, the person of interest took off before crashing his vehicle and running into an abandoned home in the 900 block of W North Street.

Around 3:20 p.m., the man came out of the home and surrendered to police. He is currently being held on charges related to fleeing officers, and hasn’t officially been named a suspect.

Friday evening, a heavy police presence was seen at E Main Street and Fenimore Avenue in Kalamazoo Township, near the scene of the standoff. Police were using a loud speaker to try to coerce someone to come out from the residence.

Police said they were executing a search warrant in connection with the case, but couldn’t specify any further.

The children are safe and with family. Child Protective Services is also getting involved.

Kalamazoo College, Hillside Middle School and Woodward School for Technology and Research were all on lockdown during the search, but those have since been lifted.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety at 269-488-8911 or Silent Observer at 269-343-2100.

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