Peru Pursuit 10/23/19

Press Release
Peru Police Department
Special Investigations Unit (SIU)
Wednesday October 23, 2019
Chief Doug Bernabei
For Immediate Release


Michael D. Willis Black Male DOB 3-19-85
Hazel Crest or Chicago, Illinois
5’09’ 190 pounds black hair/brown eyes wearing dark shirt

At 1:10 pm today Wednesday October 23, 2019 Detectives of the Peru Police Department Special Investigations Unit and Agents with the TRIDENT drug task force were conducting a joint undercover purchase of suspected heroin from Willis at a north Peru parking lot near I-80 and Illinois Rt 251. It is alleged that during the operation Willis sold directly to an undercover police officer suspected heroin in exchange for money.

When the transaction was completed the undercover officer alerted stakeout drug detectives who attempted to approach Willis, who was in his vehicle and take him into custody. As the drug detectives approached his vehicle, he took flight in his vehicle leaving the lot in a fleeing and unsafe manner. The detectives chose not to cause Willis to crash his vehicle and allowed him to leave onto Rt 251 as to avoid an escalated incident in the parking lot. Willis is known to police to have an extensive violent criminal history that preliminary appears to have faced homicide related and gun charges and has spent time in Illinois Department of Corrections.

Surveillance officers assigned to Rt 251 then attempted to stop his vehicle but he instead he entered I-80 travelling westbound. Peru police chief Doug Bernabei and Detective Sergeant Dennis Hocking, in separate police vehicles cars pursued Willis into Bureau County on I-80 but as the suspect vehicle reached west of Rt 89 we no longer attempted to pursue the suspect as his speeds reached 120 mph. Due to the risk to public safety the Peru portion of the pursuit was terminated on I-80 approximately 2 miles west of the Spring Valley Rt 89 exit. Peru radioed ahead and advised Bureau County authorities that Willis likely would exit I-180 and go south towards Rt 6 or would continue west to towards Princeton on I-80 and was wanted for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. Near Plank Road on I-80 Willis was observed throwing money out of his vehicle. All of the money was recovered.

A short time later a Bureau County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the suspect vehicle entering Princeton westbound on Rt 6 and began a second pursuit. Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei advised Bureau County they should only pursue Willis at their discretion and that Willis was identified at which time a Bureau county Sheriffs commander ordered their officers to terminate the pursuit as the vehicle was heading into Wyanet on Rt 6.

A short time later the vehicle was found abandoned in Wyanet and Willis had fled on foot. Area deputies and police officers then set up a perimeter and called for drone assistance from Peru Fire Department and the Bureau County EMA.


At 3:57 pm Willis was found in a garage in Wyanet after a homeowner called authorities reporting his normally un locked garage was now locked. Officers then forcibly entered the garage and located Willis taking him into custody.

Willis will likely face several counts of unlawful delivery of cocaine to the undercover officer while in Peru on several occasions in recent months. He will also likely face aggravated fleeing and eluding charges among possibly other charges.

Chief Bernabei stated “while this was a very dangerous operation, being personally present I witnessed the restraint displayed by officers from Peru and all across the LaSalle and Bureau County areas. Split second decisions to not force a potentially armed encounter in a retail parking lot and then to terminate both chases and take other avenues to hopefully apprehend proved as excellent options.”

“Numerous police agencies were involved in this incident along with both IVRD-ValCom and Bureau County Emergency Communications Bue-Comm who all handled themselves in an excellent and professional manner.”

Pursuant to Supreme Court rules this is to advise that charged are merely allegations and defendants enjoy the presumption of innocence.

City of Peru Police Department