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West Michigan man sentenced after New Year accidental shooting left two fellow party goers dead

Judge with gavel photo

Plea deal means Christopher Alan Toppenberg avoids 2nd degree murder charge

A West Michigan man has been sentenced to a year in jail and three years’ probation after pleading guilty to a shooting that killed two men at a New Year's party.

Christopher Alan Toppenberg of Lawrence Township pleaded guilty last to discharging a firearm under the influence of liquor or a controlled substance and causing death.

Police said Toppenberg was with a group of people celebrating New Year's in a wooded area shortly after midnight Jan. 1, when he got out an AR-15 rifle and fired 20 to 25 rounds horizontally in the direction of two men who were setting off fireworks about 100 feet away.

Two men died, one at the scene, one at a hospital. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm during the commission of a felony.