For Immediate Release
Muskegon Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Stalking His Ex-Wife and Possessing Firearms
U.S. Attorney Mark Totten Vows To Fight Gender-Based Violence
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN —U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten announced today that Mitchell Pierce, 45, of Muskegon was sentenced to 180 months in the Bureau of Prisons after he pleaded guilty to stalking and being a felon in possession of firearms. U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker also ordered that when Pierce is released from prison, Pierce will be on supervised release for 3 years.
“Gender-based violence harms families, perpetuates social inequities, and leaves victims fearful and feeling like they have nowhere to turn,” said U.S. Attorney Totten. “As this prosecution demonstrates – one of the worst stalking cases we’ve seen in years – my office is fully committed to protecting victims and holding perpetrators accountable, especially abusers who illegally possess firearms.”
WATCH: Video of U.S. Attorney Totten speaking about this case immediately following the sentencing hearing.
In August 2021, Pierce pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-wife; he was placed on probation and ordered to have no contact with her. They divorced. While the no contact order was in place, Pierce began repeatedly calling, texting, messaging, FaceTiming, and emailing his ex-wife, threatening to harm and kill her, her children, and her friends and family. Pierce also threatened to kill himself and sent images of firearms. On April 23, 2022, he sent an email that included the line “OK I got my f---ing body armor together I got my guns ready.” On April 30, he sent texts that said, “Your dead b----” and “so r your kids.”
On May 2, 2022, his ex-wife noticed a Jeep following her and pulled into a parking lot; when Pierce exited his Jeep and approached her, she struck him with her minivan and fled the scene. Police responded and searched Pierce’s rented Jeep and found a loaded pistol, two rifles, seven magazines, numerous rounds of ammunition, and a bullet-proof vest. Pierce told officers he was hoping to scare her into giving him another chance and if that did not work, had planned to commit “suicide by cop,” i.e., hold a gun and refuse to comply with commands until officers killed him.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe and be safe in their relationships with others,” said Special Agent in Charge James Deir. “The women and men at ATF and our law enforcement partners remain resolute in holding violent felons who terrorize our community members accountable.”
Below are a few of the text messages Pierce sent his ex-wife between April 22 and April 30.
Gender-based violence generally refers to any harmful threat or act directed at an individual or group based on actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity, sex characteristics, or sexual orientation. One form of gender-based violence is stalking. This term generally refers to a pattern of repeated harassing or threatening behavior, causing fear, substantial emotional distress, or safety concerns for the victim. Stalking tactics can include approaching the victim or showing up in places when the victim does not want them to be there; following and watching a victim; sending unwanted texts, photos, emails, and messages through social media; and using technology to monitor, track, and/or spy on the victim. For more information on the stalking see the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Preventing Stalking.
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey – 2016/2017 Report on Stalking Updated Release (2022), nearly 1:3 women and 1:6 men reported stalking victimization at some point in their lifetime. Each year, an estimated 13.5 million period are stalked in the United States. Moreover, stalking especially impacts young people. More than half of all female victims of stalking reported that the first incident of stalking occurred before age 25.
On May 25, 2023, the White House announced a National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action. On May 30, 2023, the Department of Justice followed the release of the National Plan with a summary of several initiatives the Department is undertaking to hold perpetrators accountable and protect survivors.
Victims who feel they are in imminent danger or fear a threat of harm should call 911. The following national hotlines are also available to help victims of stalking and other gender-based violence:
- Victim Connect: 1-855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 (or text START to 88788)
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
This case was investigated by the Fruitport Township Police Department, the Muskegon Police Department, the Muskegon Township Police Department, the Muskegon County Sheriff, the Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.