'I’ll destroy everything that doesn’t deserve life': South Haven Pier shooter made hit list with names of classmates, teachers and celebrities

Police say Aidan Topher Ingalls, 19, shot and killed a man and injured his wife in a shooting Friday afternoon on South Haven's South Pier
Aidann Ingalls Shooter web
Posted at 12:48 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 15:41:04-04

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — The man police say shot and killed a man, and injured his wife, on the South Haven Pier Friday afternoon was previously charged with planning to set off explosions at Paw Paw High School in 2018. A hit list was found in his possession at the time that listed over two dozen names, including classmates, teachers, and celebbrities.

Aidan Topher Ingalls was 19-years-old when he opened fire on the south South Haven Pier Friday. Police have so far said the shooting was random.

After shooting the man and his wife, investigators say Ingalls killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot.

A family member confirmed to FOX 17 on Monday that the man killed was 73-year-old Charles Skuza. His wife of 50 years, Barbara Skuza, remained in critical condition Monday afternoon. The couple wed in 1974, and went on to have 4 daughters together.

Ingalls had been dealing with serious legal issues after being arrested as a 15-year-old, being charged with planning an attack on Paw Paw High School.

A teacher found a journal that belonged to Ingalls in early 2018, which police say contained bomb making diagrams and methods of modifying weapons.

Two weeks after the journal was discovered, Ingalls' mother contacted the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office after she found stolen firearms in his possession.

A search warrant was served on his home, where police found "a backpack with a sawed off shotgun, and explosives ready to use first thing Monday morning, as students were entering the school.”

Details about Ingall's troubled past were discussed at a press conference Monday afternoon held by Van Buren County Prosecutor Susan Zuiderveen, and a number of other law enforcement officials from area departments.

“Unfortunately, what took place Friday was not a shock to a lot of us. It's a sad situation,” Sheriff Dan Abbott said at the press conference.

Sheriff Abbott said in 2018 that their investigation found the threat of Ingalls committing violence “to be very credible.”

Eventually, Ingalls would be charged with 10 counts related to the alleged plot to attack his high school.

He would end up pleading guilty to two felonies on May 11, with the others being dropped by the prosecutor’s office— planning an assault with explosives, and possession of a sawed-off rifle.

Before he entered into that plea though, Ingalls appeared in court multiple times where testimony was heard.

Paw Paw High School liaison officer Trever Tate testified in a Van Buren County courtroom in 2018, where he read from a journal that Ingalls had written in.

“I’ll destroy everything that doesn’t deserve life,” Tate read from the book.

“I don't know when I'm going to do this, it might be sooner or later. Only fate and I control it. If I do this, a hell of a lot of people will die”

Tate testified that Ingalls had written a sort of "hit list" in the journal, listing over two dozen names, including classmates, teachers, celebrities, and President Donald Trump.

The book, found by a Paw Paw teacher in February of 2018, was said to include diagrams on how to build bombs and modify guns to make them easier to conceal.

Investigators with the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office said at the time that they found the threats that Ingalls made to be credible.

“I have interviewed a lot of people who have committed murders. This young man was looking to do some harm," Detective Sharon VanDam, with the Van Buren Co Sheriff's Office, testified in court.

Ingalls ended up being sentenced to a residential treatment center, rather than facing serious jail time. He was also expelled from Paw Paw High School.

“The early intervention from the school and response by law enforcement really helped for this to be a good outcome in a bad situation,” said Michael Bedford, former Van Buren Co Prosecutor, in May 2018.

“Rehabbing him and looking at what is going on here, and hoping that he can be turned in the right direction.”

Prosecutor Zuiderveen said Monday that she feels strongly that Ingalls should have been tried as an adult, rather than a juvenile.

“It's outstanding how much evidence is involved in these two cases, and Judge [Jeffrey] Dufon made the wrong decision in this case, there's no denying that,” Paw Paw Police Chief Eric Marshall said during Monday's press conference.

Rick Reo, superintendent of Paw Paw Schools, released a statement Friday evening after news of Ingalls’ involvement in the shooting surfaced.

“We are saddened, as a community, to learn that this tragic incident took place in our own county,” Reo’s statement read.

“As the authorities continue to investigate the details of this horrific crime, we have to put our trust in them to do their jobs. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families at this difficult time.”

Reo also spoke at Monday's press conference, saying that Ingalls struggled to fit in during his time as a student at Paw Paw High School.

"He was taken under the wing of some peer assistant leaders in school because he was new to the district and wasn't making a lot of friends," he said Monday.